North Carolina Democrat expected to switch parties, giving Republicans supermajority in state legislature

Tricia Cotham, Tricia Ann Cotham
FILE – State Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, speaks on the House floor as North Carolina lawmakers gather for a special session on March 23, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. Speculation is brewing in North Carolina that Cotham may change her party affiliation. Republicans have scheduled a news conference Wednesday, April 5, 2023, with Cotham, of Mecklenburg County. If Cotham does switch parties, the move would give the GOP complete veto-proof control of the General Assembly and hand Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper a major political setback. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File) Gerry Broome/AP

North Carolina Democrat expected to switch parties, giving Republicans supermajority in state legislature

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Democratic North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham is expected to switch her party affiliation to Republican, according to a report. The move would give Republicans a supermajority in the state House.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told the News and Observer that Cotham plans to announce her switch in a press conference Wednesday morning. Republicans are one vote away from possessing a veto-proof supermajority in the state House, making Cotham’s switch a major boost to Republicans.

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Speculation that Cotham could switch parties has been brewing for some time. She earned a reputation over the years as being willing to reach across the aisle, but talks reached a head last week.

Her switch would allow Republicans to push through legislation regarding gun control, abortion, and education that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper previously blocked or threatened to veto.

Democrats are aware of the situation. House Minority Leader Robert Reives called on her to resign.

“Now, just a few months later, Rep. Cotham is changing parties. That is not the person that was presented to the voters of House District 112. That is not the person those constituents campaigned for in a hard primary, and who they championed in a general election in a 60% Democratic district,” Reives said in a statement obtained by the News and Observer. “Those constituents deserved to know what values were most important to their elected representative.”

“Because of that, the appropriate action is for her to resign so that her constituents are fairly represented in the North Carolina House of Representatives,” he said.

Cooper himself expressed dismay over the situation.

“Sure, yeah,” the governor responded when asked if he was worried about the ramifications of the decision. “You know, we know that it’s important to have a good balance of government, but unfortunately, we have severely gerrymandered districts that causes significant problems.”

“This is a disappointing decision. Rep. Cotham’s votes on women’s reproductive freedom, election laws, LGBTQ rights and strong public schools will determine the direction of the state we love. It’s hard to believe she would abandon these long held principles and she should still vote the way she has always said she would vote when these issues arise, regardless of party affiliation,” Cooper added in a Tuesday statement.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Whitley, of Cotham’s county, called her switch “deceit of the highest order” and demanded her resignation.

Cotham, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina’s biggest city, was apparently pushed to switch parties due to the treatment she received from her own party, according to Democratic state Rep. Cecil Brockman. He said that he didn’t blame her “one bit.”

“I think she just wanted to do what’s best for her district and when you’re constantly talked about and trashed — especially the way that we have been over the past few weeks — I think this is what happens,” Brockman told the outlet, referring to harsh criticism she received over her failure to attend a session that allowed Republicans to override Cooper’s veto.

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“I hope the (Democratic) party takes a strong look at how they react to people making the decisions that they make — they put themselves in this position,” Brockman added.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Cotham’s office.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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