Van Drew had, per FiveThirtyEight, only voted with the White House just 7% of the time during his 11 months in Congress as a Democrat, and he even endorsed Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign to defeat Trump in February. However, while the congressman didn’t rule out running as a Democrat the very night before his party switch, he very quickly proved he understood the cultish nature of GOP politics on Thursday when he pledged his “undying support” to Trump. Van Drew was quickly rewarded with Trump’s official endorsement, which, in a rarity, came in person rather than on Twitter.
The NRCC also used Thursday to delete their anti-Van Drew trash talk, many of which we’ve preserved here. (Sample: “Jeff Van Drew has a lengthy record of going all-in on abortion, withdrawing his sponsorship of a bill requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortions and receiving Planned Parenthood’s highest rating.”) They’ve also ejected wealthy businessman David Richter, who is continuing his bid against Van Drew now that he’s switched parties, from their Young Guns program.
A few Democrats have kicked off bids against Van Drew. On Wednesday political science professor Brigid Callahan received endorsements from state Senate President Steve Sweeney, who is close to powerful South Jersey Democratic leaders, as well as endorsements from the party chairs in Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties.
As we’ve noted before, county party endorsements still play an important role in New Jersey primaries, and these six counties together made up 54% of the vote in the 2018 Democratic primary for this seat. Democratic leaders have not yet taken sides in Atlantic County, where 41% of the primary vote was cast, and Ocean County, which made up 5% of the vote.