Some Dick Won't Be Terrible Partisan Democrat No More, Will Be Terrible Partisan Republican Instead
Anti-impeachment Democrat Jeff Van Drew is leaving the party and joining the United Federation of Republicans or whatever it is Donald Trump's calling the GOP these days. The good news is this reduces the number of possible Democratic defections when the House votes on impeachment this week. The bad news is this reduces the number of Democratic House members.
Last year, Van Drew replaced retiring Republican incumbent Frank LoBiondo as representative for New Jersey's second congressional district. Van Drew's opponent in the race was Seth Grossman. Grossman dismissed diversity as "crap," called Islam a "cancer," and insisted that reports of racial oppression were greatly "exaggerated." He's not a pleasant man. The national GOP went so far as to withdraw its support for Grossman, whom Van Drew creamed in November.
LoBiondo was a reliable vote for Trump in a district that the president won by five percent. Van Drew, however, has voted in line with Trump just seven percent of the time. To put this in perspective, Ayanna Pressley's "Trump score" is seven percent, Rashida Tlaib's is 8.8 percent, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's is 14 percent. Van Drew is practically a member of The Squad. He's voted against Trump on health care, WALL, Syria, climate change, and gun safety. He'd bring the Rockefeller back to the Republican Party.
Wow, that would be big. Always heard Jeff is very smart! https://t.co/7yDPU4N3wd— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1576388436.0
Rep. Jerry Nadler said yesterday that Van Drew is just reacting to internal political polling that revealed he was a dead Democrat walking. Just 28 percent of Democrats believed Van Drew deserved another term, and 58 percent, which is more, preferred another candidate, any candidate, as the party's nominee. This kind of painful rejection could easily send someone into Trump's waiting embrace.
Van Drew met with Trump Friday, and it's expected that Trump will publicly crow about the defection sometime this week. It's not clear what Trump offered Van Drew besides thirty pieces of commemorative Trump coins, but he might've promised to "enthusiastically" endorse a newly minted Republican with a voting record literally to the left of AOC.
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Dr. Brigid Harrison, a professor of political science at Montclair University, was already considering challenging Van Drew in the Democratic primary. Saturday, she flung some scalding hot tea in the congressman's face.
HARRISON: He may think this is a politically expedient move and that Republican voters will embrace him... I think Republicans, Democrats and independents all recognize a traitor and value loyalty. And I don't think that a politically motivated decision is the right way to go when our constitutional democracy is a stake.
Republicans claim that Trump didn't commit any impeachable offenses and this whole "partisan" process will just "divide the nation." It's doubtful they really believe all that. They're just desperate to protect Trump from the tyranny of accountability because he helps them kick poor people in the ass. It's less clear what Van Drew gets out of all this other than possibly keeping his job. Impeachment can make people short-sighted. Some liberals on Twitter were actually soliciting donations for Justin Amash. The guy is on the correct side of this one issue, but so would pretty much any other Democrat who'd replace him. Michigan's third district also has a 10 point Republican lean, so Amash doesn't need your latte money.
New Jersey Boomerang: Van Drew HAD just endorsed @CoryBooker & HAD told constituents he'd remain a Democrat. (D… https://t.co/iREEd6FgdC— Heidi Przybyla (@Heidi Przybyla)1576518354.0
Van Drew's old friends all think he sucks now. Five of his senior advisers resigned Sunday because working for a Republican doesn't align with their values. (The number's currently at seven.) He should expect everyone else on staff, including the cleaning lady, to also burn rubber on him. He'd recently endorsed Cory Booker for president and now the brother is raising money for his eventual Democratic challenger. Life moves pretty fast. Joe Biden is also putting a target on Van Drew's back. Maybe the RNC will consider it a matter of pride to protect Van Drew from his old gang, but it could be a money pit. Maybe they can run Seth Grossman again. He's probably free.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."