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 DrewHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Lone Democrat to oppose impeachment will seek reelection DCCC targets House GOP members over Trump administration response to coronavirus 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Asked by host Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoKennedy Center to furlough 60 percent of staff, details plans for spending stimulus funds Louisiana Republican: People upset at 'spending porn on pet projects' in latest stimulus bill McCarthy says fourth stimulus bill might not be necessary 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 TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach 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.