Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew appealed to members of his former party to be true to themselves, “not who the Democrats used to be,” saying Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden will be a “puppet” of radical extremists.
Van Drew, who represents New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District comprising the southern most quarter of the state, was one of 11 Democrats elected from the Garden State in the 2018 midterms that helped flip control of the House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat control. The election left New Jersey with only one Republican in the House.
“How I became a Republican says a lot about today’s Democratic Party,” the 67-year-old Van Drew said during a speech Thursday to the Republican National Convention.
Van Drew described how he was recruited in the early 1990s to run for a local town council seat. He resisted, saying his politics were middle of the road but was assured the Democrats were welcoming of all ideologies.
He moved up to county and state elected office.
“I noticed things were changing,” he said. “The Democratic Party had become less accepting of American tradition, less believing in American exceptionalism, less supportive of traditional faith and family. This was not the party that I knew.”
He said he was immediately uncomfortable being sworn into Congress, voting against “San Francisco liberal” Rep. Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House. He went on to decry “The Squad” of Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who he said were lurching the Democratic Party leftward.
“The party had moved from liberal to radical,” said Van Drew, who was told that he must vote for the impeachment of President Donald Trump or he would not be allowed to run again.
He was one of only two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment, and shortly thereafter, he switched parties. He said when he was pressured to vote for leftist policies, he was “ready, willing and able” to say no to the agenda.
“Do you really believe Joe Biden is ready, willing and – most of all – able to do the same?” Van Drew asked rhetorically. “Joe Biden is being told what to do by the radicals running my former party, the same radicals trying to install him as their puppet president.”
He said many Democrats are “disgusted” by what the party has become.
“Here’s my advice,” Van Drew said. “Be true to who you are now, not who the Democrats used to be.”
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