Van Drew was always a conservative Cape May County Democrat that won elections. In the NJ legislature, he reliably catered to special interests with bills benefiting the fishing and aviation industries as well as gun owners.
When Republican Congressman Frank LoBiondo retired in 2018, Jeff Van Drew won the primary race to replace him. But Van Drew had enjoyed the preferred party line position on the primary ballot.
He received begrudging support from the party’s progressive wing, if any at all. Yet the 2018 midterms reclaimed the House of Representatives to Democratic control.
What happened to him in Washington?
As soon as Van Drew landed in Congress, he openly opposed Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker. And then we saw the starry-eyed freshman reaching out to Trump for a handshake at the 2019 State of the Union address.
“I got him coming and going,” he exulted to the Press of Atlantic City. “I expressed the hope we can all come together — and that I can help with that.”
It must have been heady stuff for a state legislator from South Jersey. Rep. Van Drew began appearing in fancy suits with a distinctive four-pointed handkerchief protruding from the breast pocket.
As 2019 wore on, Fox News began to interview Van Drew. He opposed the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. He joined in the criticism of progressive policy ideas such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. This didn’t play well at home. Van Drew’s polling even among Democrats was dismal. Progressives sought a candidate to primary him. South Jersey Democratic leaders told him that his stance on impeachment was costing them down the ballot, but Van Drew continued to oppose holding Trump accountable for his misdeeds.
At the impeachment trial, Van Drew was one of only two dissenting Democratic votes. A few weeks later, he switched to the Republican party. South Jersey cringed again as Van Drew pledged his “undying support” to Trump. Remember, this was the same Trump that stiffed multiple contractors in Van Drew’s district as they built his casinos years earlier.
In the wake of his party switch, the Republicans rewarded Van Drew with prestigious committee seats on Homeland Security and Education and Labor. He soon became part of the national press.
Lately, Van Drew is playing the politics of division, publicly attacking prominent Democrats and spouting the Trump loyalist talking points. Even after the attack on Capitol Hill, Jeff Van Drew joined with 147 Republicans to object to certification of President Biden’s election.
Who is Jeff Van Drew?
The answer is still unfolding. His direction may change with shifting political fortunes in a Democratic-controlled DC. Trump is gone. We the People will have to wait and see who he is in 2021.