NC Democrat expected to switch parties Wednesday, giving Republicans ability to override vetoes

Cotham previously served 10 years in the General Assembly as a Democrat, stepping away for a...
Cotham previously served 10 years in the General Assembly as a Democrat, stepping away for a few years before running again in 2022.(North Carolina General Assembly)
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 7:50 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - A Democratic state representative will join Republicans Wednesday morning where she’s expected to announce she’s switching parties, giving Republicans a veto-proof supermajority in the General Assembly.

Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg) has not confirmed she plans to switch parties, which was first reported by Axios Raleigh. However, multiple Republican and Democratic sources have said they expect her to make that announcement during a news conference at the state Republican Party Headquarters.

Cotham has not responded to a request for comment from CBS 17.

She previously served 10 years in the General Assembly as a Democrat, stepping away for a few years before running again in 2022. She won her seat by a margin of 59-41.

While Republicans won a veto-proof supermajority in the Senate last year, they fell one seat short in the House. Cotham’s switch would give Republicans the 72nd vote they need to have a three-fifths supermajority for the final two years Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is in office.

Cotham has been viewed as being among a handful of Democrats most likely to vote with Republicans on various issues during the legislative session.

She faced criticism last week for being among three Democrats who missed a vote to override Cooper’s veto of a controversial gun bill. The Democrats’ absence gave Republicans the margin they needed to override the governor and enact the bill that eliminated the state’s pistol purchase permit requirement.

Democrats who spoke to CBS 17 said they had not received any communication from Rep. Cotham before the news broke.

House Democratic Leader Rep. Robert Reives released this statement about Rep. Cotham, calling on her to resign:

“Rep. Tricia Cotham campaigned as a Democrat and supporter of abortion rights, health care, public education, gun safety, and civil rights. The voters of House District 112 elected her to serve as that person and overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.

“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. 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.”

Finally, Gov. Cooper also released the following statement:

“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.”