Congressman Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, said he will continue to push for what he believes is right as a Republican, in his first television interview since changing parties.

Van Drew, one of only two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, spoke on the Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Sunday morning.

Bartiromo said Van Drew has done “something nobody has done before — going from the majority to the minority.”

She also asked him how Republicans can trust him, after his decades as a Democrat. Bartiromo cited his votes with Democrats to block Trump from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Accord, block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, condemn Trump’s comments about four congresswoman as racist, condemn the Trump Administration for trying to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, and support background checks for all firearm sales.

“I always pushed for what I believe was right, and what I believe was best,” Van Drew said.

That’s why he has had so many people from both parties and independents vote for him over the years, he said, and why he has been the only Democrat or one of only a handful since the Civil War to win in his county and district.

Van Drew reiterated his main reason for switching when he did was having a county chairman tell him he must vote for impeachment, or face a lack of support for his re-election in 2020.

“I could have fought it out. I have fought hard to be where I am,” Van Drew said. “But it made me think. For all the years I worked so hard and tried to give so much not only to the party but to everybody. ... It all boils down to one vote that I may have my own individual opinion on? I’m going to be punished for that? And that’s when I knew.”

He didn’t name him, but Van Drew was talking about Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman, who has said he considers pushing Van Drew out of the party as a “badge of honor.”

Van Drew made national and international news Thursday, when he and President Trump announced his party change in the Oval Office at the White House.

It was the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump. Van Drew was one of only two Democrats who voted against both articles of impeachment, and a third Democrat voted against one of the articles.

Trump said he is endorsing Van Drew for re-election in 2020 as a Republican, and Van Drew told Trump he has his “undying support.”

The super PAC called The Committee to Defend the President on Saturday began airing a “Thank Van Drew” ad praising the congressman for his decision to “put country before party” by voting his conscience and opposing impeachment. The group will spend $250,000 for a week of ads on various television stations and social media platforms, a spokesman said.

In the opposite direction, a super PAC called Mad Dog PAC had a truck parked in Atlantic City on Friday painted in bright colors that said “Screw Van Drew.” Mad Dog PAC raises money to work to impeach and defeat Trump, according to its web site.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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