(CN) — Seven aides to a New Jersey congressman who opposes the impeachment of President Donald Trump have resigned over the lawmaker’s announcement this weekend that he will switch his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
“Sadly, Congressman Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,” five former aides wrote in a resignation letter Sunday.
“We joined the office to serve the people of New Jersey’s Second Congressional District,” they wrote.
The staffers said they could not reconcile their respect for the freshman congressman and pride in their work to date with his decision to switch parties.
As such, we can no longer in good conscience continue our service in the congressman’s employ,” the letter states.
Representative Jeff Van Drew made the decision to switch parties shortly after meeting with Trump on Friday, Politico reported.
Running as a conservative, pro-gun Democrat, Van Drew flipped New Jersey’s 2nd District in 2018 when longtime Republican Frank LoBiondo retired. A former state senator, Van Drew won the congressional seat in a landslide. The district in South Jersey includes Atlantic City, Ocean City and Wildwood.
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat whom Van Drew had previously endorsed for president, noted Monday he is soliciting donations for a future challenger to defeat Van Drew in the next election.
Brigid Callahan Harrison, a resident of NJ-2 who teaches political science at Montclair State University, has already announced she will run against Van Drew for the Democrats in 2020.
The last staff member still employed by Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey is his chief of staff, Allison Murphy, according to a report Monday in The New York Times.
Murphy did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Van Drew’s switch is not expected to affect the a vote this week on Trump’s impeachment in the House, where Democrats hold 232 seats to the Republicans Party’s 198.
Representatives Collin Peterson and Justin Amash, a Democrat and an Independent, respectively, had joined Van Drew in voting against impeachment procedures in October. Peterson, whose district in Minnesota went to Trump by 30 points in the 2016 election, told the Washington Examiner he is “leaning no” in the vote on the articles against Trump.
Once impeached by the House, Trump would face a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate to be removed from office.