North Carolina State Representative Tricia Cotham Changes Party Affiliation

On Monday, April 10, North Carolina State Representative Tricia Cotham officially changed her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. In doing so, Cotham gave North Carolina Republicans a supermajority in the state legislature. This will allow them to override vetoes by the state’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper.

The move has been met with polarizing responses since Cotham first announced her plans to change her party affiliation on April 5th. She explained that she felt unwelcome in the Democratic Party, claiming that her colleagues had been hostile to her differing viewpoints. Some have expressed support for Cotham’s decision, affirming her view that the party had changed too much.

Many of her constituents, however, feel betrayed by the move. Cotham campaigned on a progressive platform, and many have expressed concerns that her views no longer reflect those of the people who elected her. These feelings are especially strong given that North Carolina Democrats focused heavily on preserving the governor’s veto-power during the election cycle. With this in mind, many of Cotham’s constituents as well as her fellow representatives have called on her to resign.

Concerns about how Cotham will vote on future legislation have been compounded by her refusal to address questions regarding policy since announcing her switch. While only Cotham herself can say for sure how her new party affiliation will be reflected in her actions as a state representative, her decision is sure to have a profound impact on the North Carolina legislature going forward. 

As state legislatures nationwide become increasingly polarized, either enacting heavily conservative or heavily liberal policies, it is still unclear which side of the aisle North Carolina (historically a swing state) will fall on.

In North Carolina and beyond, many questions about what kind of precedent Cotham’s actions will set for future changes in political affiliation by elected officials remain unanswered.

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