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Lessons from Blue New Jersey

Last week, Democrats rejoiced as election returns delivered victories in Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. But in their excitement over an alleged blue wave, they missed a mini-red wave in the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey where Republicans gained legislative seats for the first time since 1991.   

Rarely noticed were two Assembly seats and one Senate seat that Republicans picked up in South Jersey’s Atlantic, Cumberland, and Cape May counties. The race elevated a promising Republican leader, Mike Testa, co-chair of President Trump’s reelection campaign in the Garden State, who soundly defeated Congressman Jeff Van Drew’s hand-picked successor, State Senator Bob Andrzejczak. Andrzejczak had been appointed in January after Van Drew was elected to Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District last year.

While not on the ballot, Van Drew inserted himself in the election, dubbing his successor and accompanying Assembly running mates as the “Van Drew Team.” But President Trump loomed even larger. Having won the district by 4.6 points in 2016, the president made robocalls on Testa’s behalf, urging Republican voters to turn out and reject the “Van Drew Team.” The voters listened. 

Why is this important? Because Congressman Van Drew faces his own reckoning next year, and his record indicates he faces rough waters. As a state senator, Van Drew fancied himself a “moderate” Democrat, but as a congressman, he has been anything but. According to 538.com, Van Drew votes against President Trump 92 percent of the time, 40 points more to the left than the district’s political leanings. Van Drew also votes with self-described socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 84 percent of the time.

Van Drew has not only voted against President Trump’s border wall but for amnesty for illegal immigrants. He also voted to block President Trump’s withdrawal from the job-killing Paris climate agreement and sided with liberals against our Second Amendment rights. 

Most recently, Van Drew twisted himself in knots to avoid voting for the impeachment inquiry, while leaving room to placate Trump haters down the road. In a press release announcing his vote, he reserved the right to vote for the articles of impeachment in the end. It sounds like an establishment politician trying to have his liberal cake and eat it too. 

The Grand Old Party also won Assembly seats in the neighboring Burlington County where campaign volunteers for Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) lost to Republicans Ryan Peters and Jean Stanfield. Like the 2nd Congressional District, Trump won the 3rd Congressional District, by 6.2 points. Even in the liberal bastion of North Jersey, Sussex County citizens voted overwhelmingly in support of local officials cooperating with federal immigration officials. The ballot measure comes after the state’s attorney general issued a directive barring county sheriffs from working with ICE.

These victories foreshadow what’s at stake in the 2020 election and everything the Democrats are up against. National Democrats have learned nothing from Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Instead of taking stock and trying to understand how Donald Trump won states that haven’t gone Republican in decades, the party has doubled down and driven even further to the left.

With national standard bearers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the radical Squad, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are sending a message to South Jersey voters: We don’t care about your values and concerns. Instead of focusing on solving real problems in Washington, Democrats have turned Congress into a veritable three-ring impeachment circus, complete with political contortionists, tightrope walkers, and radical fire breathers. 

South Jersey voters are hardworking, family oriented people who love America unabashedly. We believe it’s government’s job to protect our citizens and their jobs – not to turn our cities into sanctuaries that protect criminals, not to reward the special interests, not to outsource prime sectors of our economy overseas. For all our challenges, we believe in America’s exceptional story and do not think socialism or globalism is the answer. 

New Jersey voters have listened to Democrats over the past three years, and we don’t like what we’ve heard. Last week, we sent Democrats a message of our own. 

Bob Patterson is a Republican candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District.

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