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Jeff Van Drew

Van Drew favorite to win GOP primary in crowded field

If GOP wants to take him out, they made need to settle on a single challenger

By David Wildstein, December 15 2019 2:42 pm

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who will announce his switch to the Republican Party in the next couple of days, is also expected to seek re-election to his 2nd district seat as a Republican.

Still, there has been speculation in recent weeks that Van Drew would flip parties and not run, instead joining the Trump administration in an appointed post.  The range of speculation on what job the retired dentist might receive is enormous.

So far, the three Republicans who were already looking to run against Van Drew — former Hill International CEO Dave Richter, former Trump administration official Robert Patterson, and former Atlantic County GOP Young Republican Chairman Brian Fitzherbert — are insisting that they will remain in the race.

That’s good news for Van Drew, whose chances to win a Republican primary are vastly improved by a large field of competitors.  The best shot at defeating Van Drew for the GOP nomination comes in a head-to-head race.

Van Drew must now compete for organization lines in seven South Jersey counties; an eighth county, Burlington, voted last week to endorse Richter.

Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci has already begun the task of clearing the field for Van Drew. 

That’s a role Palatucci — not the most popular GOP insider — has played before. 

In trying to clear the 2018 field for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin, Palatucci got Hirsh Singh to instead run for Congress in the 2nd district.  He pushed GOP leaders to back Singh, who wound up losing the primary to Seth Grossman.

Grossman, a former Atlantic County freeholder, eventually lost the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the state Republican party.  Van Drew defeated him by six points.

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