Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), who narrowly won election in 2018, flipped parties after House Democrats impeached Trump. He was one of only two House Democrats who opposed both articles of impeachment against the president.
Trump’s campaign announced late Jan. 6 that it would hold a “Keep America Great” rally on Jan. 28 at the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, which is located in Van Drew’s 2nd Congressional District.
“President Trump looks forward to returning to the Garden State to celebrate his message of ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept,'” Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of Trump’s reelection campaign, said in a statement.
Van Drew met with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in the Oval Office in December, explaining he switched to the GOP because of the Democrats’ leftward shift and the push to impeach Trump.
“I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am. It’s who I always was, but there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, of blue-dog Democrats, of conservative Democrats. And I think that’s going away,” Van Drew said, noting that one of his heroes is former President Ronald Reagan.
Trump endorsed Van Drew for reelection and said he’d visit New Jersey to campaign for him.
The district was won by President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, while Trump carried the district in 2016. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), a moderate, represented the area for 24 years before retiring in 2019.
Trump’s campaign announced the rally hours after Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), said she was running for Van Drew’s seat.
The former public school teacher and current education director of the Kennedy Forum targeted both Van Drew and Trump in her campaign announcement video, speaking as a brief clip showed the pair in the White House.
“Too many of our leaders have lost their moral compass,” she said. “Trump and Van Drew are symptoms of a bigger sickness infecting our country and our politics. Doing what’s right shouldn’t be complicated. Treat one another with respect, show some compassion, and look out for others.”
Three other Democrats have announced bids for the seat: Ashley Bennett, a member of the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders; West Cape May Commissioner John Francis II; and political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison.
Three Republicans are vying to win the Republican primary against Van Drew: businessman Brian Fitzherbert, former congressional candidate Bob Patterson, and David Richter, a CEO.