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August 24, 2020

At Republican National Convention, South Jersey congressman to explain why he left Democrats

U.S. Rep. Jeff Drew, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway among speakers with local ties

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a lifelong Democrat until switching political parties late last year, will be among the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention. 

The South Jersey congressman is scheduled to appear Thursday, the final night of the four-day event, according to President Donald Trump's re-election campaign. 

Van Drew told The Press of Atlantic City that his six-minute speech will highlight South Jersey, the reason he joined the Republican Party and his opposition to Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee. 

"This is the greatest election since the Civil War," Van Drew told the newspaper. "Don't vote for Joe Biden just because your grandparents were Democrats. Mine were, too." 

The GOP Convention, which kicked off Monday, mostly will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It originally was slated to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, but only a few portions of the convention will still be held in the Queen City. 

Trump will formally accept the party's nomination Thursday night. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak Wednesday. Other notable speakers include first lady Melania Trump, attorney Rudy Guiliani, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. 

Conway, a Camden County native, announced Sunday that she will be leaving the White House at the end of August to focus more time on her family. Her 15-year-old daughter, Claudia, wrote on Twitter that she is "officially pushing for emancipation," saying she was "DEVASTATED" Conway is speaking at the RNC. 

Conway has been one of Trump's most ardent supporters since before he took office. She served as Trump's campaign manager in 2016 after previously supporting Ted Cruz. 

By contrast, Van Drew became a Republican after voting against Trump's impeachment – one of just two Democratic congressman to do so.

  • The main portion of the convention will run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 
  • Several major television networks and cable channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox News and NBC, will broadcast the final hour each night. 
  • The entire convention, which also includes some daytime events, can be streamed on YouTube and on the RNC's various social media channels. 

He had been elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 2018, flipping New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District from Republican control after a long career serving in the New Jersey state legislature.

Trump endorsed Van Drew for a second congressional term as part of his re-election bid this November. Van Drew easily won the GOP primary last month and is now is facing Democrat Amy Kennedy, a mental health advocate and former teacher. 

Van Drew has said his top priority in Congress is to bring economic opportunities and jobs to South Jersey. His platform calls for reforming to the country's tax and health care systems, as well as supporting trade policies that help the South Jersey economy. He's also pushed for more bipartisanship in Congress.

New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District encompasses Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties, along with portions of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Ocean counties.

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