You can say a couple of things about swing-seat incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.).
He has guts.
He may even have political smarts.
Either way, he cannot be on the Christmas list of Democrat House leaders this year — or maybe ever — because he opposes the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump from office.
In an interview published on Sunday by USA Today, Van Drew said a “small elite group” within the Democratic Party has been pushing the Trump impeachment case — and he likened the effort to “everything our country doesn’t stand for.”
Here’s a tweet from the interview.
Democratic Congressman Jeff Van Drew says he dislikes the president's "rudeness" at times, but agrees with some of his positions and doesn't openly shun the president as some of his colleagues have.https://t.co/8EONRh30ju
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) December 1, 2019
The president concurred with Van Drew in a tweet of his own — and quotes the New Jersey Democrat.
Check this out.
Congressman Van Drew (D-NJ): We’ve spent millions of Dollars, in my opinion, tons of money, tons of time, tons of hurt, fracturing the Nation apart. I haven’t seen this to be a good thing.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2019
Van Drew is no great fan of the president.
He called Trump’s actions “unsavory” in the USA Today interview, though he doesn’t believe the actions rise to the level of impeachable offenses.
During another interview, this one with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business News, Van Drew used history to make his point: “You know, De Tocqueville in 1853 wrote that if a nation was more and more often using … impeachment as a way of actually removing its leaders, it would show the deterioration of the nation.” He was quoting noted French historian Alexis De Tocqueville.
Drew also previously said on Fox Business, “This has nothing to do with whether you like Donald Trump, or don’t like him, or want to see him have a second term or win in an election. This has to do with the institution of impeachment itself and not misusing it.”
With rhetoric like that — and the indirect support of President Trump on an issue so vital to the Dems — is Van Drew asking for a Democrat primary opponent in 2020?
Perhaps. Or maybe he’ll be seen as prescient.
If impeachment flops or is reduced to censure in the House or the Senate, many people will look at Van Drew and other Dems — such as operative and pollster Doug Schoen — as wise analysts who saw the train wreck coming and tried to warn Dems off the track.
Moderate voters of both parties in Van Drew’s swing district would likely laud him for his judgment on the issue.
The Democratic Party then may want to forget the whole thing, especially if it loses control of the House by endangering vulnerable Dems in swing districts — and will give Van Drew a temporary pass.
But Dems, as most politicians do, hold grudges — and Van Drew likely can forget about moving up in the House leadership structure.
A primary opponent may be underfunded and ignored by the party in 2020 if impeachment goes south.
But 2020 may bring a reckoning to Van Drew as a message to fellow House Dems about unwavering loyalty no matter the subject or price to be paid in the district.
If impeachment is seen as a success by the Dems, Van Drew could get a challenger in 2020.
The ball, in fact, already has started rolling — as this tweet from hard-Left Daily Kos addresses.
— Daily Kos Elections (@DKElections) November 27, 2019
As such, elephants are purported to have a long memories.
But in D.C. they are matched — if not surpassed — by that of numerous mules.