On the day U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, hosted President Donald Trump for a campaign rally in Wildwood, his last remaining primary challenger made his own bid for national attention.

The Wall Street Journal printed an op-ed by Bob Patterson, of Haddonfield and Ocean City, questioning his party for embracing Van Drew as a Republican after he switched parties in December.

“When I decided to run against Rep. Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey’s Second District, he was one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House,” Patterson said in his opening. “Republicans attacked him as a socialist who leaned too far left for a district that supported President Trump by nearly 5 points in 2016. So imagine my surprise when Mr. Van Drew reinvented himself as a Republican last month.”

“This was an odd switch. ... He has described himself as ‘strongly and unequivocally pro-choice.’ He has received a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, and he has bragged that he has voted 16 times to fund Planned Parenthood,” Patterson wrote.

Patterson goes on to characterize Van Drew’s voting record as liberal — even though Van Drew has long been considered a moderate to conservative Democrat in New Jersey political circles after decades in the Assembly and state Senate.

“The question is why the Republican establishment in New Jersey and Washington is rallying around Mr. Van Drew,” Patterson wrote. “GOP press releases that attacked him only weeks ago have disappeared from the internet. Mr. Van Drew’s new cheerleaders have encouraged me and other Republicans to drop out of the race.”

“Bob Patterson is not a credible candidate for Congress,” said Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis. “All you have to do is Google his name ... to understand he is well off the political spectrum. It would be embarrassing to have him on the ticket.”

He has been accused of opposing birth control because of writings from years ago. In a recent interview with The Press, Patterson said his comments have been taken out of context, including one that condom use robs women of beneficial chemicals in semen. They referenced Scientific American blog writer Jesse Bering’s Sept. 22, 2010, article, “An ode to the many evolved virtues of human semen.”

Patterson, who ran in 2016 in New Jersey’s 1st Congressional District, left a job in Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration in 2012 after it became public he was also working as editor of The Family in America, an advocate for “the natural human family.”

He most recently was associate commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration in its Office of Strategic and Digital Communications.

Patterson said his focus will be on bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and protecting American workers from job loss to immigrants.

Last month, Brian Fitzherbert, of Egg Harbor Township, exited the race. And on Monday, David Richter, of Avalon and Princeton, decided to run in the 3rd Congressional District instead.

But Patterson has said he won’t drop out, saying, “Even if Mr. Van Drew’s switch is sincere, he is the most liberal member of the Republican caucus.”

Van Drew has said he expects to vote much like his predecessor, moderate Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, who leaned left on environmental issues and moderate to conservative on military and business issues.

“South Jersey Republicans will have their say in the June 2 primary. ... This seat doesn’t belong to Mr. Van Drew; it’s the people’s seat. For this candidate, those are compelling reasons to stay in the race,” Patterson wrote.

Contact: 609-272-7219


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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