• Lynda Cohen*

Staffers leave Van Drew amid impending party switch

Congressman Jeff Van Drew’s expected switch to the Republican Party has led to at least five staffers quitting. The longtime state senator garnered national attention as a House freshman as one of two Democrats to vote against impeachment of President Donald Trump. "We greatly appreciate the opportunities that the Congressman has given us, and we are proud of the work we've done together on behalf of the people of New Jersey's Second Congressional District," read the letter posted by CNN. "Sadly, Congressman Van Drew's decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office." The letter was signed by Javier Gamboa, Edward Kaczmarski, Justin O’Leary, Mackenzie Lucas and Caroline Wood.

A sixth unnamed aide also resigned, CNN reported. State Senate President Steve Sweeney called the pending move “a betrayal to every voter who supported him in 2018 – Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated.” He also vowed to have the party reclaim the seat in 2020. “We flipped the 2nd District from Republican to Democrat last year and we will do it again next year,” Sweeney said. Gov. Phil Murphy blasted the move, saying the congressman’s has chosen his political career over the Constitution. “Congressman Van Drew has long voted against core Democratic values,” Murphy said. “Betraying our party by siding with Donald Trump is the final straw, as grassroots activists, local party leaders in his district, and I have made clear in recent weeks.” He called the switch “cynical and desperate.”

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