Rep. Jeff Van Drew last week issued a fundraising call to his former supporters that attacked the Democratic party, claiming it had been taken over by “extreme socialists” focused only on removing President Donald Trump from office.
“As you will recall, I ran on a promise to be a bipartisan voice and fight against the worst instincts of extremists in both parties,” he said in the fundraising letter. “Unfortunately, one party has allowed the extremists to take over, and I cannot in good conscience reconcile those extreme values with the values I hold in my heart.”
Van Drew defected to the Republican party last month after losing support from the district’s rank and file Democrats over his opposition to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.
Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman warned Van Drew that he might not win renomination if he continued to oppose investigations into Trump’s conduct.
Since his switch, which has been endorsed by Trump and a growing number of the district’s Republican leaders, Van Drew has seen his Republican primary opponents pushed to the side.
Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis recently called on the county’s Republican leaders to pull their endorsements of David Richter, who was once the frontrunner to take on Van Drew, and other county chairs have endorsed the incumbent, who had been their political opponent for several decades.
Trump is even coming to Wildwood to hold a rally boosting Van Drew next week.
Van Drew’s fundraising appeal comes as Democratic donors to Van Drew’s campaign work to get their money back.
“It pains me greatly to say this, but they do not represent us or our values. They just don’t care,” Van Drew said, referring to House Democrats. “They have shown no real interest in getting anything done, and the socialist rhetoric is so over-the-top that it would be laughable if it were not being taken seriously by party leadership. This is not who I am. This is not who WE are.”
Six Democrats are now vying for the opportunity to take on Van Drew.
At the head of the pack are former teacher Amy Kennedy, political science professor Brigid Harrison and Atlantic County freeholder Ashley Bennett. Also running are West Cape May Commissioner John Francis III, former Booker staffer William Cunningham and retired FBI agent Robert Turkavage, who ran for the seat as a Republican in 2018.
In an effort to fend off whichever Democrat emerges with the nomination, Van Drew is pushing to sell himself as a bipartisan figure despite his recent shift to Trump’s circle.
“The same priorities I have always fought for — limited government, fiscal discipline, pro-jobs economic policies, support for small businesses, education and healthcare reform, and other issues that matter to South Jersey — are still my priorities,” he said in the letter. “I will still be a commonsense voice and always look for the common ground because though Washington is still broken, there are still good people and good ideas on both sides of the aisle.”