Atlantic City Christmas Parade

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew walks in this month's Atlantic City Christmas Parade on the Boardwalk.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s re-election campaign has hired South Jersey political operative Ron Filan as campaign manager, adviser Bill Stepien said in a news release Thursday.

Van Drew made national headlines last week when he was one of two Democrats to vote against both counts of impeachment against President Donald Trump, then announced he was changing parties to the Republicans in an Oval Office news conference with Trump.

“There is no finer Republican operative with deeper roots in South Jersey than Ron Filan,” said Van Drew, R-2nd. “The Washington liberals are looking to take down me and President Trump, but like I told the president in the Oval Office, we will win this seat — because while the Washington liberals are focused on scoring political points, I’m focused on creating more South Jersey jobs and making our country even stronger.”

Filan, 31, of Upper Township, previously served as former U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s campaign manager and on now-Sen. Chris Brown’s 2015 campaign for Assembly.

The former New Jersey state director for the Republican National Committee, Filan is now political director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee. He has also served as executive director of the Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland county Republican committees, according to the release.

Stepien, the White House political director from January 2017 to December 2018, managed both of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaigns.

Christie cut ties with Stepien after David Wildestein said he had informed Stepien of a 2013 plot Wildstein allegedly concocted to back up traffic into Fort Lee by closing lanes at the main toll plaza to the George Washington Bridge. It was supposed to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie. Stepien has denied knowledge and was never charged.

Van Drew faces a likely tough primary race June 2, 2020. Three Republicans have said they will stay in the race, despite Trump endorsing Van Drew in last Thursday’s news conference.

They are Egg Harbor Township’s Brian Fitzherbert, a project manager for a tech company and founder of the Atlantic County Young Republicans; Bob Patterson, of Haddonfield and Ocean City, a former acting associate commissioner at the Social Security Administration; and David Richter, who recently moved to Avalon from Princeton after stepping down from leading an international contracting company based in Philadelphia.

On the Democratic side, candidates include West Cape May Commissioner John Francis, Longport homeowner and college professor Brigid Callahan Harrison; Brigantine’s Amy Kennedy, wife of former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy; and Tanzie Youngblood, a candidate against Van Drew in the 2018 Democratic primary who lives in Swedesboro and is a retired educator.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew's 2019 year in Congress

Here's a look back at Congressman Jeff Van Drew's freshman year in Congress, representing deep South Jersey as a Democrat. He is expected to soon leave the party and join the Republicans. He first gained national attention for opposing  Nancy Pelosi as speaker, then for urging bipartisan cooperation to solve the government shutdown. He has gone on Fox News to reach conservatives in his right-leaning district, and most recently opposed impeaching President Donald Trump. But he has voted with the Democrats the vast majority of the time.

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U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, joined Alaskan Rep. Don Young, a Republican, to introduce a bill reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery an…

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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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