Democratic Rep. Van Drew draws praise from Trump, concern from constituents

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Southern New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew received praise on Twitter once again this week from President Donald Trump – praise that concerns some of the freshman congressman’s constituents.

Van Drew is one of just two Democrats who voted against the Trump impeachment inquiry. His vote angered some of the progressives in his district, prompting some to talk about a primary challenge.

"We don't want Democrats that are going to vote like Republicans,” says Aime Babischkin of the group South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. "Our district isn’t as conservative as he wants to say that it is."

Van Drew represents Congressional District 2. He made headlines for voting against the impeachment inquiry.

"He knows his constituents, he knows that the area's trending Republican. He looks at that, he says his constituents don't want impeachment,” says Micah Rasmussen of the nonpartisan Rebovich Institute for NJ Politics at Rider University.

Rasmussen says that the southern area of New Jersey is full of moderate Democrats.

RELATED: Sharply divided House approves Dems' impeachment rules 

"They're not going to win elections if they are too far out of the mainstream of their region…Jeff knows his area. He knows his constituents,” he says.

But Babischkin disagrees and says that Van Drew is only concerned about his donors.

“I don't think he knows the little people of this district. I don't think he knows the people that are struggling every day in this district,” she says.

Van Drew is a dentist who served in the state Legislature from 2002 until his election to Congress in 2018. He defeated several progressive primary challengers for the Democratic nomination.

"There was a huge opportunity down here in CD 2 and they chose the conservative, white, Christian male to represent this district,” Babischkin says.

When asked which part of Van Drew bothers her the most - conservative, white, Christian or male, Babischkin responded, “I think the whole thing.”

Van Drew has said he believes Trump should be defeated in the 2020 election rather than be removed from office. He says that he worries impeachment will deepen partisanship and could lead to civil unrest.

"If parties can only represent one point of view, then parties can't be relevant to the whole country,” Rasmussen says.

No Democrat has filed with the Federal Election Commission to run against Van Drew in the primary, as of Thursday evening.

Van Drew won his seat by 7 points against Republican Seth Grossman in 2018. Trump won the district by 4.6 points in 2016.

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