Jeff Van Drew
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Jeff Van Drew
Jeff Van Drew
Jeff Van Drew Official Portrait 116th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 2nd district

January 3, 2019
Frank LoBiondo
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 1st district

January 8, 2008 - December 31, 2018
Nicholas Asselta
Bob Andrzejczak
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 1st district

January 8, 2002 - January 8, 2008
John C. Gibson
Matthew W. Milam
Member of the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders

January 1, 1995 - January 1, 1998
Gary Jessel[1]
Mark Videtto[2]
Personal details
Born (1953-02-23) February 23, 1953 (age 67)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (2020-present)
Other political
Democratic (until 2020)
Spouse(s)Ricarda Van Drew
EducationRutgers University, New Brunswick (BS)
Fairleigh Dickinson University (DMD)
WebsiteHouse website

Jefferson H. Van Drew (born February 23, 1953) is an American politician and dentist serving as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 2nd congressional district since 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party after leaving the Democratic Party in 2020 to oppose their support for the first impeachment of Donald Trump. Prior to being elected to Congress, he was the New Jersey State Senator from the 1st Legislative District from 2008 to 2018, and represented the same district in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2002 to 2008.[3][4]

Van Drew was the Democratic nominee in New Jersey's 2nd congressional district in the 2018 election. He was elected with 53% of the vote against Republican nominee Seth Grossman, who received 45% of the vote.[5] On December 19, 2019, Van Drew announced that he would be joining the Republican Party,[6] and he officially did so on January 7, 2020.[7] He was the Republican candidate for the 2020 United States House of Representatives election in New Jersey's 2nd District, in which he defeated the Democratic candidate Amy Kennedy. He later supported the efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to contest the results of the 2020 election.

Early life, education and career

Van Drew was born in New York City. He graduated with a B.S. from Rutgers University and received a D.M.D. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University.[4]

Van Drew operated a dental practice in South Jersey for 30 years before retiring.[8]

Earlier political career

Van Drew served on the Dennis Township Committee in 1991, and as Mayor from 1994 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2003. Van Drew served on the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1994 to 1997. He was a Dennis Township Fire Commissioner from 1983 to 1986.[4]

In 1994, as a Cape May County Freeholder, Van Drew made support for a local community college a major campaign issue. In 2002, ground was broken on the site of the future Atlantic Cape Community College campus in Cape May County.[9]

New Jersey Senate

On November 6, 2007, Van Drew won his bid for a seat in the New Jersey Senate, defeating Republican incumbent Nicholas Asselta.[10] In November 2011, Van Drew defeated Republican challenger David S. DeWeese by a margin of 24,557-20,857.[11] He was reelected in the 2013 elections defeating Upper Township Republican businesswoman Susan Adelizzi Schmidt by 20 points.[12]

For the 2018-19 session, Van Drew served in the Senate on the Community and Urban Affairs Committee (as Chair), the Military and Veterans' Affairs (as Vice-Chair), the Joint Committee on Housing Affordability and the Intergovernmental Relations Commission.[4] In 2008, Van Drew sponsored the Fair Market Drug Pricing Act to establish the "New Jersey Rx Card Program to reduce prescription drug prices."[13]

U.S. House of Representatives

2018 election

New Jersey's 2nd congressional district had been represented by Republican Frank LoBiondo since 1995, who served 11 terms before announcing his retirement on November 7, 2017. The district is the southernmost in New Jersey and the state's largest, encompassing rural farms from Salem County to the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City. President Barack Obama won the district in 2008 and 2012, and President Donald Trump won in 2016. Upon LoBiondo's retirement announcement, The Cook Political Report changed the district's rating in the 2018 midterms from "Safe Republican" to "Toss-Up".[14][15][16]

On November 29, 2017, Van Drew announced he would run for the open congressional seat, aiming "to bring economic opportunity and good jobs to South Jersey."[17] He was endorsed by the eight county chairs in the district, as well as New Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross.[16] In February 2018, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included Van Drew in their Red to Blue program, which provided resources and donors to candidates in districts that were targeted to be flipped from Republican to Democrat.[18] In the primary campaign for the seat, Van Drew faced William Cunningham, Tanzie Youngblood,[14] and Nate Kleinman.[19] Sean Thom dropped out ahead of the June 5, 2018 primary.[20] As of May 16, Van Drew had raised $412,555 for his campaign.[21] On June 5, 2018, Van Drew won the Democratic primary with 55.4% of the vote. On the same night, former Atlantic County Freeholder Seth Grossman won the Republican nomination.[22]

Following Van Drew's win in the primary, The Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball changed the rating of the district to "Likely Democratic".[23][24] In the November 5 midterms, Van Drew ultimately won 52.9% of the vote, one of four New Jersey congressional districts to flip from Republican to Democratic. This made Van Drew the first Democrat to represent NJ-02 since 1995.[25]

2020 election and party switch

In late November 2019, Van Drew vowed that he would remain as a Democrat, even though he opposed impeaching Trump.[26] In December 2019, it was reported that Van Drew was considering switching to the Republican Party for the 2020 elections.[27][28][29] Following a private meeting between Van Drew and President Trump,[30] most of his senior aides resigned in protest.[31][32] The planned conversion was met with praise and criticism by members of both parties.[33][34] After reports that he was planning to switch parties to the GOP, the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of fiscally conservative Democrats, dropped him from their ranks.[35]The Cook Political Report changed the rating for the district from "Toss-up" to "Leans Republican" on December 16, 2019.[36]

On December 19, 2019, Van Drew publicly announced his decision to join the Republican Party, telling Trump that he has his "undying support." As a result, Trump endorsed him for re-election.[37][6] In December 2019, Van Drew hired former Trump administration political director Bill Stepien as a 2020 campaign adviser.[38] Van Drew officially switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Republican on January 7, 2020.[7] On January 28, President Trump held a rally for Van Drew at the Wildwoods Convention Center, joined by the congressman, state senators Chris Brown and Mike Testa, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.[39]

Following the primary, he became the Republican candidate for the United States House of Representatives elections for New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District in which he faced Democratic candidate Amy Kennedy.[40] In August 2020, the Cook Political Report rated the congressional race as a "toss up", due to close polling between Van Drew and Kennedy. On August 27, Van Drew spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention, discussing his discomfort in his relationship with his former Democratic colleagues in the House, and why he supported President Trump's reelection.[41] Van Drew defeated Kennedy in the November election 52% to 46%, or by about 20,000 votes.[42]


Van Drew in October 2019

Van Drew said during his campaign that, if elected, he would not support Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the House.[43][44] His first vote in Congress was "no" for Speaker which was recorded as "present" under the rules.[45]

In October 2019, he announced that he would oppose the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.[46] On October 31, 2019, he and Collin Peterson were the only Democrats to vote against the rules for an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.[47][48] He was also one of two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment on December 18, 2019, along with Collin Peterson,[49] although it had already been leaked prior to the impeachment vote that he was planning to switch parties.[50]

Prior to switching parties, Van Drew voted in line with Democrats 89.7% of the time during his tenure in Congress.[51]

In December 2020, Van Drew was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed[52] over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.[53][54][55]

On January 6, 2021, Van Drew was one of 147 Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced an emergency recess of Congress.[56]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

In his run for state senate in 2007, Van Drew remarked, "I'm proud to be a Democrat because to me it always represented working people, middle class people and issues of compassion." Van Drew represented Republican-leaning Cape May County in the assembly, and accordingly took politically moderate positions.[57] He was one of the most conservative Democrats in the New Jersey state senate.[58] As of January 2020, FiveThirtyEight, which tracks Congressional votes, reports that Van Drew has voted with President Trump 11.7% of the time.[59]

During his congressional primary campaign, Van Drew had a 100% rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA).[60] In 2007 and 2008, Van Drew received $2,700 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc., and in 2008, Van Drew received $1,000 from the NRA.[61] In 2010, Van Drew sponsored legislation that would allow residents to carry a handgun after going through a background check, taking a firearms training course, passing a test, and paying a $500 fee.[62] In 2013, Van Drew voted as the only Democrat against a series of 10 gun control bills following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.[63] Van Drew also voiced support for expanded background checks and the regulation for silencers. Despite his pro-gun stance, the gun-control group Moms Demand Action designated Van Drew a "Gun Sense Candidate".[61]

In 2012, as state senator, Van Drew voted against a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey, one of two Democrats in opposition.[64] In 2013 during his reelection campaign, the non-profit New Jersey Family First sent out flyers stating that Van Drew "supports traditional marriage and letting the people vote on the definition of marriage," while his Republican opponent Susan Adelizzi Schmidt was in favor of same-sex marriage.[65] In spite of this, he is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

Also in 2012, Van Drew voted against raising the state minimum wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the lone Democrat to dissent.[66] On his campaign website, Van Drew highlighted his support for fully funding the Children's Health Insurance Program, and protecting net neutrality.[67] Van Drew also supported a state constitutional amendment requiring parental approval for abortions, which he later withdrew. As state senator, he also withdrew sponsorship of a bill to reinstate the death penalty in the state, which he previously favored.[67][68]

Van Drew opposes offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast. In 2019, he joined Republican John Rutherford to introduce the Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act, which would prohibit seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean.[69] The state senator previously voted to withdraw from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,[67] and supported the construction of a pipeline through the Pinelands.[70]

As of 2019, Van Drew had a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Coalition, 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and 0% from Conservative Review.[71] He said he is pro-choice but opposed to late-term abortions.[72]

Electoral history

United States House of Representatives elections, 2020[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Van Drew (incumbent) 195,526 51.9
Democratic Amy Kennedy 173,849 46.2
Total votes 100.0
Republican hold
August 9, 2020 Republican primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Van Drew (incumbent) 45,226 82.4
Republican Bob Patterson 9,691 17.6
United States House of Representatives elections, 2018[73]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew 125,755 52.9%
Republican Seth Grossman 110,491 45.2%
Libertarian John Ordille 1,631 0.6%
Independent Steven Fencihel 1,046 0.4%
Independent Anthony Parisi Sanchez 964 0.4%
Independent William R. Benfer 816 0.4%
Total votes 240,703 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican
June 5, 2018 Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew 15,654 55.4
Democratic Tanzira "Tanzie" Youngblood 5,417 19.2
Democratic William Cunningham 4,739 16.8
Democratic Nate Kleinman 2,443 8.6
Total votes 28,253 100
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2017[74]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew (incumbent) 35,464 64.8%
Republican Mary Gruccio 18,589 34.0%
Independent Anthony Parisi Sanchez 652 1.2%
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[75]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew (incumbent) 34,624 59.4%
Republican Susan Adelizzi Schmidt 22,835 39.2%
Independent Tom Greto 825 1.4%
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew (incumbent) 24,557 54.0
Republican David S. DeWeese 20,857 45.9
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[76]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jeff Van Drew 28,240 55.7
Republican Nicholas Asselta (incumbent) 22,469 44.3
Democratic gain from Republican

Personal life

Van Drew and his wife Ricarda have two children.[77] He is a resident of Dennis Township.[78] Van Drew has served as president of the New Jersey Dental Society and a board expert of the New Jersey Board of Dentistry.[79]

Van Drew is a Freemason[80] at Cannon Lodge No. 104 in South Seaville, New Jersey.[81]


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  3. ^ "Memorandum of Agreement Between the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and Dennis Township" (PDF).
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  79. ^ [1] Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey: 2004 Edition], p. 248. Lawyers Diary and Manual, LLC, 2004. ISBN 9781577411871. Accessed August 9, 2018. "He is a former president of the Dental Society and a board expert of the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry."
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  81. ^ "User Clip: Jeff Van Drew Cannon Lodge |".

External links

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