Source: Editorial Board
Rep. Tricia Cotham, who was elected by the voters of District 112 to the state House last November, has made the switch from being a Democrat to joining the state Republican Party.
Cotham ran on a platform of protecting abortion rights, gun reform, health care as a right and supporting LGBTQ+ rights. Just a few months into the new legislative session, those supposedly long-held beliefs have gone out the window.
Cotham announced earlier in April that she was joining the North Carolina Republican Party. Despite her campaign platform, she has now joined the party that wants to restrict abortion, erode gun safety measures, target LGBTQ+ North Carolinians through discriminatory bills, and do the bare minimum for those who can’t afford health coverage.
Following her announcement, state Democrats, advocates, and her constituents called on Cotham to resign.
Switching political parties is not unheard of, but they almost always involve politicians who are either more conservative or more liberal members of their party and represent evenly divided districts. Cotham was elected by her constituents with 59% of the vote in 2022, and she represents an area that voted for President Joe Biden by a more than 2-to-1 margin over Donald Trump in 2020.
Politicians who run on a progressive platform in a strongly Democratic district don’t just become right-wing Republicans three months into their term – and certainly not when that “transformation” hands an extremist Republican Party a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature. Such a drastic change brings up many questions.
Cameron Pruette, the chairperson of the LGBTQ+ Democrats of Mecklenburg County, stated that Cotham betrayed the community’s trust and questioned how long the switch had been in the works.
“It is ironic to me that in the middle of Holy Week, when we’re about to discuss Judas trading away people for pieces of silver, what did Tricia Cotham trade away for my community?” Pruette asked. “What did Tricia Cotham trade away for her voters? We deserve better, and if she can’t vote with our values, she must resign.”
There had been rumblings about Cotham switching parties the night before her announcement, which prompted responses from Democratic leaders including North Carolina House Minority Leader Democrat Robert Reives and Gov. Roy Cooper.
“Those constituents deserved to know what values were most important to their elected representative,” Reives said. “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.”
Gov. Roy Cooper also released a statement that night, calling Cotham’s decision “disappointing.”
“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.”
Perhaps the strongest response to Cotham’s decision came from Anderson Clayton, the North Carolina Democratic Party’s new chairperson. She spoke out forcefully against Cotham, stating, “Rep. Cotham’s decision to switch parties is a deceit of the highest order.”
“Tricia Cotham campaigned on protecting reproductive freedoms and is now seemingly open to new abortion restrictions. She campaigned on protecting LGBTQ rights, and today stood beside Congressman Dan Bishop, the father of HB 2 in our state,” Clayton said.
What Cotham has done is a disgrace. The voters of House District 112 elected her based on her stated values as a Democrat and champion of abortion rights, gun reform and LGTBQ+ rights. She has betrayed them.
Cotham does not represent a swing district. She does not represent North Carolinians who are divided on the direction in which they want to see their state and country move. She represents one of the most “blue” districts in the state and would have lost badly had she run as a Republican in 2022. As it stands, she has no shot at reelection, unless Republicans gerrymander the districts to give her a safe seat.
The bottom line is that Turncoat Tricia Cotham has sold out not only her constituents in Mecklenburg County, but also North Carolinians around the state. She can no longer be trusted to fairly represent her district and her constituents. She must resign immediately.