Montclair University Professor and Political Pundit Announces Congressional Bid as Van Drew Prepares to Switch Parties

Montclair State University professor and New Jersey political commentator Brigid Harrison yesterday announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s second district.

The seat is presently held by freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2).

A moderate Democrat in an otherwise Republican-district who prides himself in working across the aisle, Van Drew angered Democrats across the state when he voted against launching the presidential impeachment inquiry. He has since said he will vote against impeaching President Trump.

Following the vote on the articles of impeachment by the full House, Van Drew is expected to switch parties and announce he will seek the Republican nomination for a second term. All but one member of his Washington staff resigned following a Saturday meeting where he advised them of his plans.  

Harrison, who commutes to Montclair from the state’s southern-most congressional district, had been considering a run for the Democratic nomination even before talk of a Van Drew defection to the GOP. In a November 24 op-ed, Harrison wrote the following about Congressman Van Drew’s vote: “His vote on impeachment proceedings will negatively affect his ability to effectively represent our district. That’s because there are 20 representatives who, like Van Drew, hail from districts that voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. But nearly every one of them decided that the vote on impeachment was worth risking their political careers.”

Monday she said “It’s time to put politics aside and do what’s right for South Jersey. We need citizens, not politicians. That’s why I’m running for Congress.”

Van Drew was one of only two Democrats to vote against the impeachment inquiry resolution.

Harrison is considered one of the state’s top political experts and is the author of “American Democracy Now,” along with “A More Perfect Union, Power and Society and Women in American Politics.”

She is not alone in wanting the Democratic nomination. Brigantine resident Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), is opening an exploratory committee. Several others are considering a run. In an interesting twist, former GOP candidate Robert Turkavage last week switched from Republican to Democrat and is pursuing the Democratic nomination. The former FBI agent lost his 2018 bid for the Republican nomination to face-off against Van Drew in the general election.

Van Drew has been a strong credit union supporter since his election to Congress in 2018 and while serving in the state Legislature before that.