AP Photo/Gerry Broome
- A North Carolina lawmaker is expected to switch parties in what would be a stunning turn of events.
- State Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Charlotte-area Democrat, is poised to become a Republican, per Axios.
- It would give the GOP a supermajority, meaning they could override the Dem governor’s vetoes.
A North Carolina Democratic state representative is expected to switch to the Republican Party, according to Axios, which would give the GOP a supermajority in the state legislature and allow them to override vetoes from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
State Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Mecklenburg County Democrat who served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017 and again beginning in 2023 after an unsuccessful congressional bid in 2016, is slated to make her decision known on Wednesday.
Such a dramatic move by Cotham would empower the GOP to pass a swath of conservative-oriented legislation over the objection of Gov. Cooper if the party remained united on all of its votes. Cooper, a former state legislator who also served as the state’s attorney general for 16 years, is a moderate but has clashed with North Carolina Republicans on issues including abortion policy, voting rights, gun rights, and appointment powers.
Republicans already have a supermajority in the state Senate, where they control 30 of the 50 seats. But after the 2022 elections, the GOP came one vote shy of a supermajority in the lower chamber, controlling 71 out of 120 seats, while Democrats currently maintain 49 seats.
In 2016, Cooper narrowly defeated then-Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and in 2020 beat then-Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, giving Democrats a continued foothold in a state that had once been favorable to them.
But despite North Carolina’s increasingly diverse population and its penchant for close statewide contests, Republicans have dominated state legislative races since seizing control of the General Assembly in the 2010 elections.
Upon assuming power in 2011, legislative Republicans set out to redraw districts that would protect their newly-robust majorities, affording them an outsized number of seats relative to their party registration and statewide electoral performances. As a result, redistricting in the state has been a highly contentious affair, with multiple lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of districts across the state.
And while Republicans in Raleigh have pursued a raft of conservative legislation over the past decade, their push hit a roadblock when Cooper bested McCrory.
As of March 2023, Cooper had issued 75 vetoes — more than all previous North Carolina governors combined — since taking office six years ago, according to The Assembly NC.
From 2005 to 2009, Jerry Meek, whom Cotham married in late 2008, was the chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. According to the North Carolina political blog Watauga Watch, Cotham and Meek are no longer married.
Cotham’s mother, Pat Cotham, is an at-large member of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
State Rep. Cotham’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.