SWITCHING SIDES
December 14, 2019

House Republicans may soon have a new member in their ranks.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), probably the most vocally anti-impeachment Democrat — and one of only two House Democrats to vote against formalizing an impeachment inquiry in October — apparently met with President Trump, who urged him to switch parties. And the congressman is giving it some serious thought, The Washington Post reports. In fact, he's serious enough about it that he's discussed which day he should make an announcement and whether it should come before or after the full House vote on two articles of impeachment, The New York Times reports.

Van Drew is a centrist freshman lawmaker who considers impeachment too divisive and hails from a district that swung from supporting President Obama by 8 percentage points in 2012 to backing Trump by 5 points in 2016, although it reportedly leans red historically. By crossing the aisle, Van Drew would be less likely to face a primary threat, two Democrats and one Republican told the Times on condition of anonymity. As it stands, Van Drew feels nervous about a Democratic primary challenge, as well as his chance in the general election, a Republican familiar with the discussions said.

Van Drew and his team haven't responded to the Post or the Times yet, but he did deny rumors about a switch earlier in the week. Read more at The Washington Post and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

September 12, 2019

Three years after President Trump referred to a black campaign rally attendee as "my African-American," the man has decided to leave the Republican party and launch a 2020 campaign for the House of Representatives as an independent.

Four-time GOP congressional candidate Gregory Cheadle told PBS Newshour about his dissatisfaction with the Republican party and the Trump administration, saying the party is pursuing a "pro-white" agenda and using black people as "political pawns." Cheadle reportedly aligned with the Republican party fiscally, but the GOP's response to a slew of recent racial attacks by Trump on several congresswomen of color and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) made him re-evaluate his affiliation.

"They were sidestepping the people of color issue and saying that, 'No, it's not racist,'" Cheadle told PBS. "They were saying these people were socialists and communists ... And I thought this is a classic case of whites not seeing racism because they want to put blinders on and make it about something else."

Cheadle also criticized the racial makeup of Trump's judicial nominees, who are predominantly white. He wouldn't go so far as to label Trump a racist, instead saying he believes the president has a "white superiority complex."

Cheadle's words are a major change of tune from his feelings in 2016. After Trump famously told people at his campaign rally to "look at my African-American over here," Cheadle at the time said he was "startled" by people who were offended by the comments, adding that the country is so "polarized and sensitive."

"I'm more critical of it today than I was back then because today I wonder to what extent he said that for political gain or for attention," Cheadle told PBS. Read more at PBS Newshour. Marianne Dodson

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