Last week in the North Carolina Legislature, an abortion bill was hastily drawn up and brought to a vote through a little-used parliamentary procedure last utilized to fast-track HB 2, the disastrous Bathroom Bill that cruelly targeted trans North Carolinians and will have cost our state approximately $3.76 billion by 2028 in lost revenue from tourism, film shoots, business expansions and sporting events.
Helping to usher this unpopular bill through the House was unpopular Rep. Tricia Cotham, who switched parties just in time to initiate a spectacular ripple effect of which the abortion bill is just a small part.
But it may be the most egregious.
Remember, in January, four months ago, she co-sponsored a bill that would have made the protections of Roe v Wade into state law. As a lawmaker in 2015, Cotham described her own abortion to make a larger point. And she ran for this seat on a pro-abortion stance last year, a factor in her Democratic primary victory, which she won by 826 votes over three other candidates.
More on this in a moment.
First let’s look at the damage she’s wrought. Cotham’s defection made a seismic shift in the balance of power in Raleigh, meaning that the House will be able to override the coming veto on this bill provided she joins her caucus (spoiler alert: She will) and any other vetoes our governor may issue.
Of course, this all but destroys Cotham’s chance at re-election. Or does it?
Before Cotham’s betrayal, House members deployed new rules on veto overrides, now allowed to be called to a vote without prior notice instead of the previous two-day waiting period. After she made the historic switch, the NC Supreme Court changed the rules about gerrymandering, which means that the party in power — hers — can cut her a new district more friendly to a newly minted Republican in plenty of time for the next election in 2024.
With Cotham in their ranks, and with this new NC Supreme Court decision, the NC GOP will alter the state Congressional map. Now, its 14 seats are balanced between Democrats and Republicans, seven apiece, which more or less accurately reflects the electorate. When they’re done, we will likely see 10-12 Republican seats, which in turn will upend the balance of power in the US House.
It’s almost as if the Republican majority planned it this way. But that would be collusion, wouldn’t it?
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