Rep. Tricia Cotham, the NC House member from Charlotte, shocked state political observers last week when she decamped from the Democratic Party — under which she won both a primary last May and a general election just five months ago — to join the Republicans.
It’s seismic. Her defection gives Republicans a supermajority in both the House and Senate, able to override Gov. Cooper’s veto without having to make deals with the other side.
So often in North Carolina, our representative government comes down to just one person.
Let’s put aside, for a moment, Cotham’s betrayal to a party she has belonged to her whole life. And forget about the Democrat voters in District 112 who put her through her primary and elected her to the seat as a counterweight to GOP overreach that has plagued the NC Legislature for almost 25 years. That part, stunning in its duplicity, has been well covered by now.
And forget for a moment that this is political suicide — if, that is, she plans on running in District 112 again, where as a Democrat in 2022 she won by 20 points. This is a solidly blue district, and she should expect no loyalty from voters who, rightly, feel burned.
Let’s look instead to the glee with which the Republican caucus has welcomed Cotham, who until now has been an avid supporter of women’s choice, LGBTQ+ issues and voter rights — anathema to the modern NC GOP.
The hypocrisy is astounding.
Rank-and-file Republicans in NC consider Sen. Thom Tillis to be a RINO, and have vowed to primary out all moderate voices in the party. Ironically, one of Cotham’s reasons for leaving the Dems was that they had become too rigid in their thinking, that they wanted to “control” her. To seek refuge from this by allying with a party that embraces election deniers, insurrectionists, white supremacists and fascists seems… insincere.
No matter to House Speaker Tim Moore, who welcomed Cotham to the party like a returning hero, and proceeded to file a flurry of legislation: six bills targeting transgender North Carolinians. Cotham will be tested right away as they make their way through the House. No matter how she votes, neither side will ever be able to trust her again.
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