Party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew seems to be favored to keep his seat.
Both the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, two Washington-based publications that track congressional races, now give Democratic challenger Amy Kennedy less chance to wrest the seat from freshman Van Drew in New Jersey’s hottest congressional race.
And they say Van Drew’s embrace of Donald Trump is a big reason.
Van Drew was elected as a Democrat in 2018 but switched to the Republicans after voting against impeaching Trump. The president flew to New Jersey in January and saluted Van Drew at a massive rally at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
“Trump is keen to keep a hold on the district, and Van Drew has tied himself so explicitly to Trump, he has very comfortable lead,” said a reporter and analyst from Side Elections.
Democratic polling has Trump and Joe Biden almost even in a district that supported Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 before giving 51% of its votes to Trump four years ago.
“Trump embraced Van Drew after he voted against impeachment and switched parties,” Cook’s House editor, David Wasserman, wrote. “But now Biden is falling behind and Van Drew may be satisfied with the choice he made.”
Both publications initially rated Van Drew as a slight favorite to keep the seat, but that was before the Democrats nominated Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and the latest member of the iconic family to seek public office, widened the gap.
While Van Drew raised $2.7 million through June 30, Kennedy showed she couldn’t be financially competitive, bringing in only $1 million. In addition, two Democratic polls put her out of the competition.
Almost 80,000 Democrats voted in the 2nd District congressional primary last month, more than the 72,000 that voted in the previous two primaries combined, state election statistics show.
“Republicans in the district are now out for blood,” the reporter said.
“Van Drew made a decision to switch parties and people will want to honor him for the choice he made”, said an analyst for Fox Virals.