Staffers quit en masse after congressman abandons his party for Trump


At least six senior staffers for Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey quit over the weekend after the congressman announced he would join the Republican Party.

Numerous senior aides resigned together over the weekend after Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a New Jersey freshman elected as a Democrat, announced he would join the Republican Party.

"Sadly, Congressman Van Drew's decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office," five staffers wrote in a letter on Sunday to Allison Murphy, Van Drew's chief of staff. The letter was signed by Van Drew's legislative director, communications director, two deputy chiefs, and a legislative staff assistant, according to the Washington Post.

The Post reported that a sixth staffer based in New Jersey also resigned on Sunday.

In their letter, the staffers expressed pride in some of the many Democratic accomplishments over the past year, including work to reduce health care costs and secure election infrastructure. But the prospect of working for the party of Trump was too much to bear.

"Over the past year, Trump Republicans have sided with special interests over the needs of working people," the letter stated. "Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart. They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardized our national security for his own political advantage."

The staffers said they respect Van Drew, but are "deeply saddened and disappointed by his decision," and would be unable to work for him "in good conscience."

In response, Rep. Cherri Bustos (D-IL), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced her intention to hire those staff on at the Democratic campaign arm for the time being.

"It's right before the holidays and these staffers just quit their jobs to stand up for their Democratic values," Bustos wrote on social media. "We'll bring them and others who leave on with the @dccc until they land new jobs that align with their values."

Van Drew was one of two Democrats to vote against opening a formal impeachment investigation in the House, joining Minnesota's Rep. Colin Peterson. According to the New York Times, Van Drew has stated he will likely vote against the two articles of impeachment recommended by the House Judiciary Committee.

Van Drew won his seat in 2018 by defeating Republican Seth Grossman by 8 points, flipping the seat after Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo retired.

After opposing impeachment, internal polling obtained by the Washington Post showed just 24% of Democrats in Van Drew's district wanted him to be renominated, with a strong 58% of majority wanting a different Democrat in the seat. Van Drew made the decision to abandon his party after a Friday meeting with Trump, according to the New York Times.

While President Obama carried the district in 2012, Trump carried it in 2016.

According to the Washington Post, Brigid Callahan Harrison, a political science professor, was already contemplating challenging Van Drew for the Democratic nomination.

"He may think this is a politically expedient move and that Republican voters will embrace him," Harrison told the Post on Saturday. "I think Republicans, Democrats and independents all recognize a traitor and value loyalty."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.