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Van Drew: Final straw on party switch was NJ county chairman telling me I 'have to' vote for impeachment

Van Drew: Final straw on party switch was NJ county chairman telling me I 'have to' vote for impeachment

Rep. Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump to leave Walter Reed l Post-debate polls show Biden building big lead l Coronavirus concerns ahead of VP debate Democrat-turned-Republican Van Drew trails Amy Kennedy in New Jersey House race: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: 19 years since 9/11 | Dem rival to Marjorie Taylor Greene drops out | Collin Peterson faces fight of his career | Court delivers blow to ex-felon voting rights in Florida MORE (R-N.J.) said Sunday that he made the decision to switch party affiliation from Democratic to Republican after a New Jersey county party chairman told him he would face political consequences if he did not vote in favor of impeachment.

“It made me think for all the years that I’ve worked so hard and tried to give so much not only to the party but to everybody… it all boils down to that I may have my own individual opinion on one vote and that’s not going to be allowed, and I’m going to be punished for that, and that’s when I knew,” Van Drew said on “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding the conversation was “something that happens that lets you know when it’s time to make a change.”

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Asked by host Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Ratcliffe, Schiff battle over Biden emails, politicized intelligence MORE how he felt about the decision, Van Drew responded “how I feel today is I feel good, I feel that I did the honorable thing … this impeachment is a weak, thin impeachment that doesn’t mean much to most of the American people.”

“Folks are tired, they’re tired of the millions of dollars that have been spent on [impeachment] and they want to move forward,” Van Drew said. He added Congress’ time would be better spent on issues like election security, Medicare and Medicaid and veterans’ care.

“We must understand what impeachment is, it almost never happens for a reason. It harms our country, it fractures [sic] us apart. I want to bring people together,” he added.

Van Drew announced his party switch at the White House on Thursday, pledging his “undying support” to President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE, who asked supporters to donate to Van Drew’s re-election.

Michael Suleiman, chair of the Atlantic County Democrats, told The Hill in a statement that he was proud to be considered the reason Van Drew had left the party, and added that Van Drew had previously "begged" the local party to support him on the issue of impeachment.

"Jeff conveniently leaves out the part of the meeting where he pleaded for our party's support and justified voting no on impeachment by touting his 92% voting record with Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE," Suleiman told The Hill. "So one week he is behind Pelosi and the next week he switches parties? Give me a break."

"Jeff switched parties for self-preservation, that's it," Suleiman continued. "His internal polling showed he would lose a Democratic primary and he bolted. He tries to blame me for this but at the end of the day he decided it was more important to keep the congressional pin on his lapel than face the music from Democratic voters."

Updated at 10:25 p.m. John Bowden contributed to this report.