In an unexpected move, North Carolina State Representative Tricia Cotham has announced her defection from the Democratic Party, joining the GOP and consolidating Republican supermajorities in both the state’s legislative chambers.
Cotham, whose family has been deeply entrenched in the Democratic Party, was a reliable vote for the party until 2017 when she lost a bid for Congress. Cotham re-assumed her role in the North Carolina state house at the beginning of this year. In a strongly-worded statement, she criticized the Democratic Party’s new direction and accused some party members of launching personal attacks against her and her family.
“The modern-day Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and so many others throughout this state and this country… they have pushed me out” said Cotham. Democrat State House Minority Leader Robert Reives, on Tuesday, accused Cotham of dishonesty and called on her to resign. Cotham’s decision has seemingly unified Democrats in North Carolina against her, with State Governor Roy Cooper referring to her choice as “disappointing.”
Before her party switch announcement, Cotham’s aides reportedly cleared out her desk on the Democratic side of the House chamber and moved her to a new desk on the Republican side, signaling her intention to jump ship.
Republicans will now enjoy veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, limiting the ability of Governor Cooper and other Democrats to oppose or negotiate in policy decisions. The North Carolina GOP has welcomed Cotham with open arms, praising her for “standing up to the Democrats’ extreme agenda” and publicly welcoming her into the Republican Party.