Dr. Jeff Van Drew today declared his candidacy for the United States House of Representatives in the Second Congressional District of New Jersey. Van Drew, a state senator, is a small business owner in Atlantic County, where he has practiced dentistry for more than 35 years. He lives in Cape May County, where is a life member of the Ocean View Fire Company.
“It will be the honor of a lifetime to represent South Jersey in Congress, especially at a time when our country most needs consensus builders,” said Van Drew. “Expect to hear a lot from me during this campaign about finding common ground. It won’t be easy or always even possible, but that must never stop us from making the effort. The future of our democracy depends on finding ways around our differences, so we can work together on all that we have in common.”
All eight Democratic county chairs within the district have pledged their support for Van Drew’s candidacy. The Second District is an expansive stretch of the southernmost region of the state, comprised of the state’s entire coast from Barnegat Light to the Cape May Point Lighthouse. It reaches to the Delaware Memorial Bridge and covers all of Atlantic, Cape May and Salem counties as well as parts of Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean counties. The district is home to much of the state’s agricultural and fishing heritage, and a major focus of its tourism industry.
“My top priority in Congress will be to find ways to bring economic opportunities and good jobs to South Jersey,” said Van Drew. “Thousands of people in the district lost their jobs during Atlantic City’s downsizing, and the region is still feeling the ripple effects. I want to ensure that reforms to the nation’s tax structure, health insurance system and trade policies are beneficial to South Jersey families and business owners, which will require ongoing vigilance and attention to detail.”
Dr. Van Drew already serves approximately one third of the district in the State Senate, including all of Cape May County and portions of Cumberland and Atlantic counties, where he has garnered electoral margins of 35, 20, and 18 percent since defeating the incumbent senator by 11 percent in 2007. Before then, he represented the district in the General Assembly, beginning in 2002.
“I have never met a public concern that didn’t stand a better chance of being solved by working together than going it alone,” said Van Drew. “Bipartisanship may have become a dirty word in Washington, but in the rest of the nation, we know it’s exactly what we need right now. I want to be the kind of Congressman who reaches across the aisle to do what’s right for the entire country.” During his previous service as a Cape May County Freeholder, Dr. Van Drew worked to bring higher education to the last county in New Jersey without it, by helping to establish a joint Atlantic Cape Community College. County lore holds that he is one of only five Democrats to have been elected as freeholder since the Civil War—and the only one ever reelected.
He is the second Democratic state senator from the county in the state’s history and the only one reelected. Dr. Van Drew also previously served as mayor of his community of Dennis Township. He was recognized by state leaders of both parties for holding the line on property taxes. In several legislative sessions, Dr. Van Drew earned the distinction of having more bills signed into law than any other legislator in New Jersey. His major victories include his work to end the danger and fatalities of the last three traffic lights on the Garden State Parkway by getting them removed from exits 9, 10 and 11, as well as the reconfiguration of exit 0 and the construction of the new bridge between Cape May and Atlantic counties. He saved 1,500 jobs from state budget cuts at the Vineland Developmental Center in Cumberland County. He sponsored several groundbreaking measures to make sure New Jersey children with dyslexia and other reading disabilities receive the instruction they need to succeed. He successfully opposed the diversion of funding for the Vineland Veterans Home in the state budget, and preserved transportation funds for our veterans to see their own doctors without added costs. He is the sponsor of many of the state’s open space and farmland preservation laws, as well as several measures to protect New Jersey’s native diamondback terrapins from being run over or caught.
“Our district has been represented by two extraordinary people since 1975—Bill Hughes and Frank LoBiondo,” said Van Drew. “There’s good reason for that. Our values are pretty straightforward. People should come before party differences. Veterans deserve a level of care that they earned and were promised. Families and business owners who are struggling to navigate through the federal government must be able to depend on their Congressman to help them.
“I want to be a Congressman for every resident of South Jersey, no matter what party. We need to resolve our petty differences and work together. Moderation for the good of our nation and our children is a virtue. It seems obvious to most of us, but unfortunately, extreme elements on both ends of the political spectrum are preventing that in Washington. I have never known any other way to get anything done. We can do better, and we must do better.”