Democratic North Carolina Representative Tricia Cotham announced on Wednesday at a press conference that she is switching to the Republican Party.
Cotham said her decision is based on frustration and disagreements with the modern state Democratic Party.
“The party wants to villainize anyone who has free thought, free judgment, has solutions, and wants to get to work to better our state,” she said. “Not just sit in a meeting and have a workshop after a workshop, but really work with individuals to get things done.”
“If you don’t do exactly what the Democrats want you to do, they will try to bully you,” she added.
During the press conference, Cotham didn’t go into detail about policy specifics and didn’t answer questions on what legislation she would support.
Cotham’s decision has been met with major backlash. Democratic commentator, attorney & non-profit advisor Kaivan Shroff tweeted, “Cotham is a traitor to democracy.”
The North Carolina Democratic Party put out a statement saying that Cotham’s decision is a “betrayal” to the people of her district and have called for her to “resign immediately.”
Cotham’s decision has massive implications for politics in the state. After the 2022 election cycle, Republicans won the supermajority in the state Senate but fell one seat short of a supermajority in the state House. With Cotham’s switch, the GOP legislators will have an easier time passing more conservative legislation without facing the threat of a veto by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.
The party switch is surprising, considering Cotham’s background. She represents a Democratic-leaning district in the Charlotte area and has a family with a history of Democratic politics.
Her mother serves on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and is a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member, and her father served as chair of the Mecklenburg Democratic Party.
“We are thrilled to have Rep. Cotham join the Republican Party to advance solutions for North Carolina families,” said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley. “This announcement continues to reflect that the Democratic Party is too radical for North Carolina.”
In the press conference, Cotham stood her ground, saying, “I am still the same person, and I am going to do what I believe is right and follow my conscience.”