Jeff Van Drew is absolutely dominating his congressional primary race in New Jersey. As presumptive Democratic nominee, he leads Republican Hirsh Singh by 18 points according to an internal poll conducted by his campaign. He also took contributions from the NRA.

A 17-year-old constituent confronted Van Drew with evidence looked up on her phone that his statement that he never took NRA money was a lie. He carries a 100 percent rating from the NRA. He also carries Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee approval.

Van Drew is, in many ways, less progressive than the average Democrat. In addition to his favorable rating from the NRA, Van Drew has voted against gay rights and increases in the minimum wage. In the DCCC’s effort to flip the seat in New Jersey, progressives feel the party has thrown them under the bus.

“The DCCC needs to take a look at themselves in the mirror and make sure we’re reflective of who we’re sending to D.C.,” Will Cunningham, an openly gay African American running against Van Drew in the upcoming June primary said. “We as the Democratic Party, if we’re going to talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk.”

And last week, Van Drew’s conservative views on guns brought his name to a wider audience when he was singled out by Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg.

In fact, three House Democrats have already received NRA money in the 2018 election cycle: Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Henry Cuellar of Texas. NPR also explored the voting records of Congress members on gun reform earlier this year.

And Van Drew is far from the only member of a new breed of Blue Dog the DCCC has backed. Following the Conor Lamb example, the party seems poised to turn away from it’s progressive wing to run right-wing candidates that adopt the Democrat moniker — even going so far as to support a former Republican against a progressive candidate in Nebraska.

The strategy of being right-leaning has predictably alienated progressive votes in the party, but it also has yielded upset victories like Conor Lamb and Doug Jones in Alabama. As for who will win the fight between the new Blue Dogs and progressives in New Jersey, we find out on June 5th.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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