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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

December 20: Trump’s New Congressional Convert Breaks House GOP’s Anti-Abortion Unanimity

When U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew decided to switch parties after Democrats in his district did not take kindly to his refusal to back an impeachment inquiry, I noticed something about his record that will give his new friends heartburn, and wrote about it for New York:

New Jersey congressman Jeff Van Drew’s impending Democrat-to-Republican Party switch has gotten a lot of attention as another sign of partisan polarization over impeachment (his was one of just two Democratic votes against the formal launch of impeachment proceedings in October, and he had signaled his opposition to the articles of impeachment that will hit the House floor this week). This was punctuated over the weekend by a mass resignation of most of his staff.

The move was probably made inevitable when Democrats back home began to abandon Van Drew much as his staff did later. But Chris Cillizza thinks it’s a great trophy for Trump:

“The image of Van Drew, then, being driven from his party because of impeachment plays directly into Trump’s hands. The President has long argued that Democrats are blinded by their hatred for him and that this latest congressional reaction to his behavior with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is nothing more than a partisan hoax.”

I don’t know about that; I’d say having actual Democrats instead of former Democrats opposing impeachment is more valuable to his cause and to the “Democrats in disarray” narrative political media love so much. But there’s an aspect of Van Drew’s apostasy that could cause Trump and the GOP some heartburn, too. After the 2018 elections (when Rodney Frelinghuysen and Charlie Dent retired), the anti-abortion movement could boast it had finally hunted to extinction the once-vibrant herd of pro-choice House Republicans. Whatever else he is now, Van Drew is pro-choice, having received a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood in the New Jersey legislature, and then saying this during his 2018 congressional campaign:

I’m strongly and unequivocally pro-choice: I support Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose. Any efforts to weaken or undermine that right will face my fierce opposition.

It is most definitely going to annoy Trump’s extremely important conservative Evangelical and traditionalist Catholic allies that a friend of the baby-killers has snuck back into the tent. And they may not be happy that POTUS has publicly offered Van Drew fundraising help in his 2020 reelection bid.  want to know whether the president has promised Van Drew support in his 2020 reelection bid.

Before the party switch, Van Drew had three Republicans already in the field running against him, one of whom is a self-funding business executive who called the incumbent a “weasel.” I’d be shocked if his primary opponents don’t make a big deal out of his position on abortion, which in turn could cause problems for Trump if he defends the apostate, when he really needs anti-abortion activists whipping the faithful into a frenzy before November.

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