State Sen. Michael Testa declined to say whether Rep. Jeff Van Drew ought to be welcomed into the Republican party.
“No comment this time,” he said, adding that he didn’t believe there was anything to suggest the first-term congressman was considering leaving the Democratic party.
Van Drew has faced increasing opposition from local Democrats in the second congressional district over his opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
The pushback is so great that Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman last week warned Van Drew he could not guarantee the former state senator a primary win if he did not back impeachment.
Two of the state’s top Democrats, Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney, have declined to endorse the congressman, with Murphy sidestepping and Sweeney suggesting his endorsement hinged on support of impeachment.
Despite the hubbub, Van Drew has maintained his firm anti-impeachment stance. On Wednesday, he told USA Today he would vote against two proposed articles of impeachment against Trump.
The first of those articles charges Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, and the second claims he obstructed Congress by ignoring House subpoenas seeking documents and testimony from administration officials.
Van Drew’s obstinacy on the issue, and Trump’s public praise of the congressman, has given rise to some speculation that Van Drew may be seeking to defect to the GOP.
Some New Jersey Republicans — including State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, an honorary chair of Trump’s New Jersey re-election campaign — have said the longtime right-of-center Democrat should be welcomed into the fold.
Some Local Democrats who have fought political battles with Van Drew for years, including Cape May County Chairman Marcus Karavan, have said the congressman should keep to his caucus.
Testa, who is the other honorary chair of Trump’s state re-election campaign and chairman of the Cumberland County GOP, falls somewhere between the two.