Democratic Lawmaker Switches Sides, Gives State Veto-Proof Majority

Democratic Lawmaker Switches Sides, Gives State Veto-Proof Majority

( – North Carolina politics got a shock last week when a Democratic state legislator quietly changed parties. Tricia Cotham (R) was elected last November, but it seems she’s quickly become disillusioned with her former party. Her defection is likely to have a major effect on politics in the state because it radically alters the balance of power.

Tricia Cotham was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives last November as a Democrat, and took office on January 1. It wasn’t her first experience of state government; in 2007, Governor Mike Easley (D) appointed her to represent the state’s 100th District to replace a legislator who had resigned. In 2016, she stepped down, but last year, she decided it was time for a comeback.

Unfortunately for Cotham, the Democratic Party she served a decade ago wasn’t the same as the Democratic Party now. Although she has liberal beliefs — she campaigned on protecting abortion and LGBTQ rights — she’s also a patriotic American and likes to display the US flag on her car and social media profiles. Apparently, that upset some of her fellow Liberals, because she reportedly suffered a barrage of abuse for it.

On April 4, Cotham officially changed parties; she’s now a registered Republican, her desk has been cleared out, and House staff have moved her chair to the GOP side of the chamber. That afternoon, she walked into the chamber with a group of Republican lawmakers, including House Majority Leader John Bell (R). That must have been a pleasant experience for Bell, because the addition of Cotham means Republicans now have a veto-proof majority in the North Carolina House, which they already had in the state Senate.

That fact has Democrats panicking. The GOP plans to introduce several bills this session, including new restrictions on abortion. Although Cotham pledged to protect abortion rights during her campaign, she’s also voted with Republicans in the past, even before changing parties. If she sides with her new colleagues this time, the GOP can push the law through, and there’s nothing Governor Roy Cooper (D) can do about it.

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