New Jersey Democrat outspoken against Trump impeachment expected to switch parties, sources say

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a freshman Democrat from New Jersey who opposes impeachment, is expected to switch to the Republican Party, according to a senior Democratic aide. CNN's Lauren Fox reports.

Posted: Dec 15, 2019 3:20 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2019 3:20 PM

A freshman Democrat, who strongly opposes House Democrats' impeachment of President Donald Trump, is expected to switch to the Republican Party and is telling colleagues his intentions, according to two sources.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew is considering the switch as he struggles in New Jersey politics. Internal polling has shown he was losing major support from Democrats in the district, Democratic sources told CNN on Saturday. Switching parties would allow Van Drew to avoid a Democratic primary challenge for his seat.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday blasted the change, saying Van Drew is "willing to enable Donald Trump just to try to salvage his own election."

"Betraying our values by siding with Donald Trump is the final straw and made it impossible for him to continue being supported by our party, as grassroots activists, local party leaders in his district, and I have made clear in recent weeks," Murphy, a Democrat, said in a statement. "This party switch is cynical and desperate, and I am confident that a Democrat who shares the values and priorities of our Democratic Party will hold this seat."

A senior Republican source also confirmed to CNN on Saturday that Van Drew is expected to switch parties. He has told his staff and met with Trump, according to the source.

The timing of the announcement is not clear but expected this week, according to the source. It seemed to be under discussion whether he would switch before the impeachment vote or if the White House wanted him to vote against impeachment as a Democrat to show a defection.

Van Drew is calling fellow congressional Democrats, including some in the New Jersey delegation, to talk about his decision to switch parties, a source familiar with his plans told CNN. New Jersey Democrats and other Democrats on Capitol Hill are urging Van Drew to stay in the party, according to the source.

In these phone calls, Van Drew has expressed concerns to his colleagues about the blowback he's gotten in the Democratic Party back home over his position on impeachment, the source added.

On impeachment

Van Drew was one of just two Democrats who in October voted against formalizing the impeachment inquiry, and announced earlier this month that he would vote against all articles of impeachment on the House floor. The full House of Representatives is expected to vote next week on two House Judiciary Committee-approved articles of impeachment, which will set up a trial in the Senate.

The move, while a symbolic boost for Trump, likely won't change the outcome of the House vote that would see Trump as only the third president in American history to be impeached.

The Washington Post, citing officials, first reported Saturday that Van Drew is expected to join the Republican Party "in the coming days" after meeting with Trump on Friday at the White House. The New York Times reported Saturday that the congressman could make an announcement as soon as next week.

CNN has reached out to Van Drew's office and the Trump administration for comment. Van Drew, his chief of staff and communications director did not respond to the Post's requests for comment Saturday.

According to the Post, Van Drew denied on Tuesday that he was switching parties.

"I'm not changing anything -- just doing my job. I'm still a Democrat, right here," he told the Post in a brief interview.

Van Drew said last week that he plans to vote against all articles of impeachment "unless there's something that I haven't seen, haven't heard before."

After voting against the formal inquiry in October, the New Jersey congressman said in a statement that "without bipartisan support I believe this inquiry will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate."

Van Drew replaced a Republican in 2018 to represent New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District, which Trump won in 2016.

New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District had been held by former Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo for 24 years before Van Drew won election in 2018. In that race, Van Drew ran against a Republican candidate, who after making controversial remarks against diversity, lost the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The district had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, before voting for Trump in 2016.

Later Saturday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, welcomed Van Drew to the Republican Party.

"I want to tell Jeff Van Drew that he is welcome in the Republican Party, not just by me but by our conference, and we would support him and we would welcome him to join," McCarthy told Fox News' Jeanine Pirro.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95659

Reported Deaths: 2056
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26960930
Ramsey10911320
Dakota7524126
Anoka6092133
Stearns401024
Washington379955
Scott257433
Olmsted244628
Nobles197116
Blue Earth16996
Wright16327
St. Louis160241
Carver14197
Clay138940
Rice13358
Mower13285
Sherburne115014
Kandiyohi10112
Winona88718
Lyon6954
Waseca6698
Benton5523
Steele5472
Freeborn5424
Nicollet54016
Watonwan5284
Crow Wing51618
Todd4952
Chisago4941
McLeod4882
Le Sueur4674
Otter Tail4414
Beltrami4215
Martin40810
Goodhue3659
Itasca32814
Pine3280
Douglas3102
Polk3054
Isanti2971
Becker2802
Carlton2701
Morrison2492
Dodge2390
Cottonwood2250
Pipestone22510
Chippewa2141
Meeker2022
Wabasha1960
Sibley1923
Brown1912
Yellow Medicine1822
Cass1804
Rock1730
Unassigned17052
Redwood1673
Mille Lacs1643
Murray1642
Renville1518
Jackson1481
Faribault1450
Swift1381
Houston1280
Kanabec1258
Roseau1230
Koochiching1223
Fillmore1200
Pennington1191
Lincoln1110
Hubbard1031
Stevens1031
Pope940
Big Stone820
Aitkin801
Wadena690
Wilkin653
Grant614
Lake590
Lac qui Parle581
Norman540
Marshall521
Mahnomen481
Red Lake451
Traverse310
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods221
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 85533

Reported Deaths: 1305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15872262
Woodbury544764
Johnson512627
Black Hawk448990
Linn4010111
Story344417
Dubuque325741
Scott301128
Dallas278538
Pottawattamie211338
Buena Vista199112
Marshall178434
Sioux16183
Wapello133357
Webster125514
Plymouth114121
Clinton112121
Muscatine110855
Crawford10885
Cerro Gordo105721
Warren9566
Jasper83832
Des Moines7848
Marion7637
Henry7434
Tama71331
Carroll6625
Lee6377
Wright5811
Dickinson5276
Boone5078
Bremer4927
Washington45911
Louisa42915
Mahaska41219
Delaware4023
Floyd3493
Jackson3493
Franklin34818
Winneshiek3356
Clay3264
Lyon3264
Hamilton3223
Benton3101
Winnebago30313
Hardin2991
Poweshiek2958
Buchanan2791
Jones2743
Butler2702
Kossuth2700
Shelby2671
Clarke2653
Emmet26510
Allamakee2616
Clayton2523
Chickasaw2500
Sac2500
Cherokee2492
Cedar2461
Guthrie2456
Fayette2222
Harrison2223
Grundy2203
Madison2192
Iowa2091
Palo Alto2020
Humboldt1903
Mitchell1900
Howard1886
Hancock1842
Calhoun1833
Mills1801
Page1700
Cass1682
Osceola1610
Monroe15911
Pocahontas1592
Lucas1566
Monona1531
Jefferson1381
Appanoose1363
Union1353
Taylor1301
Davis1244
Ida1221
Fremont1180
Van Buren1141
Keokuk1091
Worth1080
Greene1010
Montgomery965
Wayne862
Audubon821
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold502
Adams330
Unassigned170
Rochester
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Mason City
Few Clouds
60° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 60°
Albert Lea
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 61°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Few Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 59°
Much Cooler Week Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events