After seventeen years in the New Jersey Legislature, Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) might need a tutorial on the rules and procedures of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Van Drew’s first vote as the newly-elected congressman from New Jersey’s 2nd district was a roll call vote for Speaker. Two candidates were nominated: Democrat Nancy Pelosi and Republican Kevin McCarthy.
The process was supposed to be simple. The names of each member of the new 116th Congress were called in alphabetical order to vote on a candidate for Speaker. The job for each House member was simple: say the name of who you want for Speaker. Not everyone voted for Pelosi or McCarthy. Eighteen votes were cast for ten other individuals. Newly-elected Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) was one of four House members to vote for Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois).
Even though 401 names were called before his, Van Drew flubbed his first vote.
Asked to declare his choice for Speaker, Van Drew rose for the first time on the House floor and said “No.”
That caused some noticeable laughter in the House chamber and immediately enhanced Van Drew’s name ID among his colleagues.
Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief at The Intercept, tweeted out: “Machine Dem from New Jersey, Jeff Van Drew, screws up his first vote. You’re supposed to vote for a person for Speaker, this guy just voted ‘no.’ Well done, Jersey.”
At the end of the vote, the Clerk of the House went back to Van Drew and after a quick tutoring session, he voted present.
“A debatable assertion,” Grim wrote.
It’s possible Van Drew knew exactly what he was doing. By voting “No,” he can go back to his Republican-leaning district — the GOP held his seat for 24 years until today — and say that he was the only Democrat in Congress that actually voted no on Pelosi.