N.C. Democrats are demanding the resignation of a state lawmaker after news reports surfaced indicating that Rep. Tricia Cotham would be switching to the Republican Party. If the speculated change in party aligns does prove true, it would give Republicans in the North Carolina legislature a the majority needed for a veto-proof supermajority, granting them tremendous power over matters like abortions and elections.
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) voiced his disappointment with the possible switch, insisting that “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.” Last year, Cotham ran on a platform of raising the minimum wage, championing LGBTQ rights and expanding access to voting, among other progressive promises.
Cotham was endorsed by Emily’s List, a national organization that promotes female Democrat candidates who support abortion rights. She won her race against her Republican opponent in the November midterms by nearly 20 points after a contentious Democratic primary.
That same month, Democrats gained a majority in the Senate and were just one seat shy of the same majority in the House. Since the start of this legislative session, Roy Cooper has vetoed 47 Republican bills in the last four years, the most recent being a bill that would abolish the need for a permit to own a handgun.
Cotham was missing from the vote to repeal the governor’s veto at the time, citing a prior medical appointment as the reason for her absence. This lowered the number of votes necessary to reach the override threshold, allowing Republicans to override the Democratic governor’s veto for the first time in two years.
Because of Cotham’s potential switch, Cooper believes that she should still vote according to her “long held principles”. Requests for comment have gone unanswered and Cotham has a scheduled ‘major announcement’ scheduled for Wednesday morning with North Carolina Republican leaders and Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.).
The historic move has caused quite the uproar from local, state, and national Democratic leaders, who are all calling for Cotham to resign in order for her constituents to be fairly represented. House Democratic Leader Robert Reives stressed Cotham’s campaign promises and “overwhelmingly” supported platform, stressing the betrayal of a change in party.
Heather Williams, interim president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, stated that Cotham is “placing politics” over the interest of her constituents, which is a major point of contention for Democratic leaders regarding this situation.
With the addition of Cotham, the GOP could also override vetoes on vital issues such as abortion, education, and elections. The political tension is real as we await Cotham’s announcement to see where her allegiance will lie.