By Stephen Neukam
Congressman Jeff Van Drew visited Rider on Nov. 12 for his first public appearance since his midterm victory in New Jersey’s second district to discuss his agenda heading into Washington in an event hosted by the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics.
Van Drew lamented that both Democrats and Republicans must be willing to compromise in a call for bipartisanship. The newly-elected congressman made it clear that he would take this principle to his new job by expressing support for a number of policies that President Donald Trump has enforced.
“It is more important to come up with a real answer and try to work together whenever we can,” said Van Drew. “[We need to] stop beating each other up all of the time.”
Van Drew, a Democrat, won the district with just over 52 percent of the vote. The district, which had long been held by a Republican, was another Democratic victory in the House in the midterms.
The Democrats picked up 32 seats in the House in the midterm election. A number of races were still yet to be called, according to projections.
Van Drew, a dentist by profession, was a veteran of the state Senate. His campaign struck a moderate tone, advocating for “comprehensive [immigration] reform” that was predicated on “strengthening border security,” per Van Drew’s campaign website.
“On the immigration issue, let’s just show some leadership,” said Van Drew. “There is an answer to this.”
The congressman-elect’s campaign also championed tax cuts for the middle class and improving upon the Affordable Care Act to lower health care prices for New Jersey families.
His opponent, Republican Seth Grossman, ran a campaign marred with controversy. Following a report that Grossman regarded diversity as “a bunch of crap and un-American,” the National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew its endorsement of the candidate in July.
One of the most immediate issues that Van Drew will face when arriving in Washington is to help select the Democratic leadership of the House. Van Drew had made it clear during his campaign that he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House, a title she held during President Barack Obama’s first term.
“Mrs. Pelosi has done a good job with a lot of things. She is extremely bright,” said Van Drew. “As I spoke to Democrats that were more progressive and Democrats that were more conservative, both groups said ‘we just need a different face’.”
Van Drew also reflected on his political past and offices he has held at the local and state level.
The moderate message portrayed by Van Drew was interesting to some in attendance, given the polarization of American politics.
“I thought it was a really interesting event,” said freshman political science major Matthew Schantin. “It was definitely interesting to hear from a moderate Democrat on how the party goes forward especially after the midterm elections.”
Van Drew and other newly elected congress people are headed to Washington on Nov. 13 to participate in the congressional orientation.