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Atlantic County freeholder to announce campaign to replace Van Drew

Atlantic County freeholder to announce campaign to replace Van Drew

Minutes after U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew voted against impeaching President Donald Trump on Wednesday night, an Atlantic County Freeholder announced her intention to replace him.

Ashley Bennett, who was elected to represent the county’s 3rd District in 2017, called Van Drew’s vote a “betrayal” in a news release Wednesday and “the final insult to the proverbial injury.”

“As an elected official who already represents part of (Van Drew’s district) ... I understand the needs of the district, and there is so much more we need to be working on to serve all of our constituents,” Bennett said. “It is time to put the focus back on the many hardworking families that make up the district, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Bennett’s district on the freeholder board covers parts of Egg Harbor and Hamilton townships. Van Drew’s congressional district covers all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties and parts of Gloucester, Camden, Burlington and Ocean counties.

Bennett will host a campaign kickoff event at 10 a.m. Friday at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 353 S. New Road in Pleasantville, according to the release.

Van Drew is up for re-election next year. On Thursday, he announced his switch to the Republican Party, appearing in the Oval Office with Trump.

Van Drew was one of only three Democrats to vote against one or both of the articles of impeachment against Trump — abuse of power and obstruction.

Bennett is one of several candidates of either party to announce a bid for Van Drew’s seat in 2020.

On the Democrat side, Montclair State University professor Brigid Callahan Harris and West Cape May Commissioner John Francis have announced they are running. Brigantine’s Amy Kennedy — the wife of former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy — has announced she has formed an exploratory committee. Other names have surfaced as possible primary candidates, including Swedesboro’s Tanzie Youngblood, who lost to Van Drew in the 2018 primary.

On the Republican side are Brian T. Fitzherbert, 30, of Egg Harbor Township; David Richter, 53, of Avalon; and Robert Patterson, of Camden County and Ocean City.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew's 2019 year in Congress

Here's a look back at Congressman Jeff Van Drew's freshman year in Congress, representing deep South Jersey as a Democrat. He is expected to soon leave the party and join the Republicans. He first gained national attention for opposing  Nancy Pelosi as speaker, then for urging bipartisan cooperation to solve the government shutdown. He has gone on Fox News to reach conservatives in his right-leaning district, and most recently opposed impeaching President Donald Trump. But he has voted with the Democrats the vast majority of the time.

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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