As his party closes out its convention week, longtime Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew says he will speak about the 2020 race tonight as a “flashpoint election” and what it will mean for the future.
Van Drew, who switched parties to become a Republican and appeared with President Donald Trump at a rally in his district late last year, is speaking on the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention before President Trump formally accepts the Republican nomination.
“I’m also going to speak about what I believe the differences are between Republicans and Democrats, which has been very visible and easy to see on how both of these conventions have moved forward so far,” said Van Drew, who is running for re-election in a New Jersey district that includes Atlantic and Cape May counties.
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Van Drew said he talked to President Trump about his speech “a little bit,” and that the President thanked him for speaking at the convention and said that he was “proud to have me do it, which was very, very nice of him.”
Van Drew, who is in his first term as a member of Congress and who previously served in the New Jersey state Senate as a Democrat, said he felt comfortable with what he has heard from his new party during the convention - his first as a Republican.
Asked what he’d tell voters who have previously supported him but did not feel comfortable with the messages they saw from the RNC, Van Drew said he was a “blue dog,” conservative Democrat before and that voters should “do what your heart and your conscience tells you to do, always do what you believe is right. However, I’m the same Jeff Van Drew.”
Amy Kennedy, the Democratic running against Van Drew for the New Jersey seat, called Van Drew’s anticipated speech at the convention “self-serving.”
“I think this is another example of what we saw early in his party switch where he’s gotten a favor from this President, but it’s not a favor for South Jersey,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the appearance is also an opportunity for voters to “see where he really is aligned.”
“For many years in South Jersey, people knew that he tried to stay somewhat in between and this is a way that demonstrates he’s really gone much further in the other direction and committed himself and his undying support to Donald Trump,” she said.