Rep. Jeff Van Drew said the final straw in his decision to leave the Democratic Party to become a Republican stemmed from a recent conversation he had with a New Jersey county party chairman about impeaching President Donald Trump.
“The party is moving further and further to the left,” Van Drew said during an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
But the “final sign” for Van Drew, he said, was when one of the Democratic Party county chairmen in his district allegedly told him he had to vote for impeachment.
“He said, ‘You’ve got to vote for impeachment. If you don’t, you’re not going to be able to run in my county,’” Van Drew said of the alleged conversation.
The newly minted Republican said the exchange “made me think” that all his hard work helping people could be for naught if he didn’t vote to impeach Trump.
“For all the years that I’ve worked so hard and tried to give so much ― not only to the party but to everybody,” he said. “And it all boils down to one vote, that I may have my own individual opinion on one vote, and that’s not going to be allowed? I’m going to be punished for that? And that’s when I knew.”
Van Drew, who represents New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, joined Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday, a day after voting against impeachment, to announce his plan to switch parties. He said Trump has his “undying support,” and in return, the president endorsed him.
Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against the article of abuse of power drafted by the House Judiciary Committee and one of three Democrats to vote against the article of obstruction of Congress.
During his interview with Fox News on Sunday, Van Drew gushed over host Maria Bartiromo, whose softball coverage of the Trump presidency has drawn scrutiny from some veteran journalists.
“I’m so proud to be associated with you,” Van Drew told her. “You truly represent what news media should be about. ... I’m very proud of you and the work that you do and the objectivity that you have.”
The New Jersey lawmaker continued to knock the Democratic-led impeachment of Trump, claiming evidence of wrongdoing in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is “weak” and “thin.” He said he feels switching parities was the “honorable thing” to do.
“I always pushed for what I believe was right and what I believe was best,” he said.
Van Drew was one of dozens of Democrats last month who condemned White House adviser Stephen Miller after his racist emails to Breitbart editors were published online.
He hasn’t publicly discussed Miller since leaving the Democratic Party. His office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment about whether his stance on Miller remains the same as a Republican.