A group of Galloway Township Republican leaders rescinded their endorsement of David Richter in the second Congressional District race and came out strongly Monday, along with Cape May County leaders, for the re-election of Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd.

“Congressman Van Drew is a proven conservative who has a long and distinguished record of fighting for South Jersey families,” said the Galloway statement, provided by Van Drew campaign manager Ron Filan. “We are grateful that Congressman Van Drew is fighting to defend President (Donald) Trump at every turn, and we are honored to endorse him for re-election to the U.S. House of representatives.”

In Cape May County, Republican Chairman Marcus Karavan and others said Monday in a news release they will follow Trump’s lead in supporting Van Drew.

“We now have an incumbent Republican congressman, endorsed by our Republican president,” Karavan said. “I plan to to follow our president’s lead and work hard to reelect Rep. Van Drew to the U.S. Congress.”

Karavan said all five members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, Sheriff Robert Nolan and County Clerk Rita Fulginiti “have welcomed Van Drew to the fold and pledged to support his re-election.”

The Galloway endorsement change happened a day after Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis sent an email to local GOP leaders saying Richter’s critical comments about Trump and Van Drew in the media were hurting the party.

He asked anyone who had endorsed Richter to reconsider.

“I commend Galloway Township for their leadership. I’m glad they are following my lead,” Davis said Monday.

Signing the Van Drew endorsement were Municipal Chairwoman Terry Lucarelli, Freeholder Rich Dase, former Mayor and Councilman Tony Coppola, former Deputy Mayor and Councilman Rich Clute, Councilman Tony DiPietro, former Mayor Don Purdy, and Township Republican League President Chris Coleman.

Most had previously endorsed Richter, a longtime Princeton resident who recently moved to Avalon, where he has regularly spent summers.

Richter is standing firm in challenging Van Drew, and fought back Monday against accusations of being critical of Trump over his endorsement of Van Drew in a December Oval Office event, where Van Drew announced his party switch to Republican.

In an email to Davis, Richter said Davis accused him of “name-calling on CNN,” which Richter denied.

“Both the video and the transcript of my CNN interview are available on the web and confirm this. Second, I didn’t ‘question President Trump’s motivations’ in endorsing Jeff Van Drew during my interview with The New York Times,” Richter said. “I simply stated the fact that Van Drew’s party-flipping and the endorsement that came with it was ‘in the best interest of Donald Trump,’ i.e. it was a positive event for the president and his re-election campaign, especially coming as it did in the middle of the House’s impeachment vote.”

Richter said he has “consistently supported the President and his re-election efforts and will continue to do so.”

But Davis said Monday his concerns about Richter go deeper, citing Richter calling Van Drew “a weasel” for switching parties in a December interview with The Press of Atlantic City. Davis also cited Richter’s continuing attacks on Van Drew as unprincipled and not a “real Republican.”

“My concern has always been his immediate reaction was to refer to him as a weasel. That’s wrong and he owes Congressman Van Drew an apology for that,” Davis said. “Then he goes on CNN and an interview with the New York Times — two media sources very much anti-Republican — and expects to be treated fairly. He gives them fodder to go after a fellow Republican, which is not healthy to the party. That’s not going to put us into a better position to be stronger going into this November.”

“No matter his position or party, Jeff has looked to do good work and put politics aside,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said in the Cape statement Monday. “We have joked with him for years about crossing over and joining the party of common sense.”

The release said endorsements are forthcoming from local Cape May County Republicans.

Despite some past political differences, we have always been able to work with Jeff, when it comes to helping the folks we represent,” Lower Township Mayor and Assemblyman-Elect Erik Simonsen said. “A united front ... will be critical if we are to truly push back against the progressive insanity that has infested the Democrat party, both in Trenton and Washington, DC.”

“On the issues that affect our quality of life locally and the principles that are most important to our voters, we stand on common ground (with Van Drew),” said Middle Township Mayor and CapeGOP Second Vice-Chair Tim Donohue.

”I realize that President Trump has made his endorsement, but Republican voters in the Second District deserve a choice,” Richter wrote to Davis. “As Chairman of the Atlantic County Republican Committee ... you have an obligation to run a fair and impartial convention and endorsement process.”There are also two other Republicans in the primary, Egg Harbor Township’s Brian Fitzherbert, who has received many local endorsements, and Bob Patterson, of Haddonfield and Ocean City.

Davis said the convention will remain open to all and fair, but “as a party leader I can’t stand idly by and allow someone to malign the record of a sitting Republican congressman, particularly when the facts (Richter) is putting out there are not accurate,” he said of Richter’s statements that Van Drew is a liberal, when he has long been known locally as a moderate to conservative Democrat.

“Maybe next time he should talk to the Washington Times, not the New York Times,” Davis said.

Contact: 609-272-7219

mpost@pressofac.com

Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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