Republican Tricia Cotham, a North Carolina state representative who has switched parties, intends to seek re-election.
State Rep. Tricia Cotham — the state lawmaker who switched parties midway through the last legislative session to give Republicans supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly — plans to seek re-election next year, according to Stephen Wiley, caucus director for House Republicans.
Cotham, who was a longtime Democrat when she ran for president in 2022, made national news in April when she switched party affiliation. Her move gave Republicans the last seat they needed to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Cotham recently informed Wiley that she plans to run in the newly redrawn House District 105 in southern Mecklenburg County, Wiley told WRAL on Friday. The district’s voter makeup leans Republican, but is expected to be close in 2024. Cotham did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Cotham’s announcement ends months of speculation about her political future that began after she switched parties.
She lives in the 8th Congressional District, a safe Republican seat in the US House of Representatives that is set to be contested next year. Rep. Dan Bishop, who represents the district, is running for state attorney general rather than seeking re-election to Congress. Cotham would have faced an uphill battle in the Republican primary for Congress, due to her long history as a Democratic politician.
As a Democrat, she served in the state House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017 and then returned to the Legislature in 2022 after winning the navy blue Charlotte-area seat. Years of championing liberal causes, such as abortion access and LGBTQ rights, have endeared Cotham to Democratic voters in Mecklenburg County. It also helps that her mother, Pat Cotham, is a grassroots Democratic leader and Mecklenburg County commissioner.
Cotham said her decision to switch parties in April came after receiving pushback from fellow Democrats over her decision to skip a crucial vote on a bill to ease gun restrictions, as well as her views on school choice that went against the party line.
When she announced her switch to the Republican Party, she cited abuse and bullying from Democrats as the main reason for her decision. Democrats have denied Cotham’s claims and, in some cases, provided information to debunk them.
Since then, Cotham has helped Republicans pass conservative legislation that would have failed without her support.
Despite her long history of pro-choice political rhetoric — including a speech in the legislature in 2015 during which she told the story of her abortion and criticized Republicans for trying to control women with stricter abortion rules — Cotham cast the deciding vote earlier this year. General. To severely restrict access to abortion in North Carolina.
It passed with the minimum votes needed to override a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Abortion in North Carolina is now prohibited after 12 weeks in most circumstances, less than half the time allowed under the now-defunct Roe v. Wade standard.
This is perhaps the most dramatic example, given Cotham’s complete retreat from such a charged political discussion. But it’s not the only district where her party switch has given Republicans the kind of political victories they likely failed to achieve previously.
In the months since Cotham provided the final vote needed for a GOP supermajority, Republicans have enacted other controversial new laws — strongly supported by Republicans but opposed by Democrats — to change election rules before 2024, seizing power from the governor’s office, and funneling hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars For private school families and organizing conversations between public school teachers and their students.
It made Cotham a hero in Republican Party circles.
At the N.C. Republican Party’s annual convention this summer, Cotham was routinely surrounded by new fans who wanted to shake her hand or take a selfie, thanking her for the victories she had allowed the GOP to achieve by rendering Cooper’s veto powerless.
Cooper spent years successfully vetoing dozens of bills after Democrats broke the GOP supermajority in the 2018 election. Republicans were never able to muster the bipartisan support that was necessary to override the veto. But since Cotham changed his position, none of Cooper’s objections have succeeded.
Cotham was rewarded in a new round of redistricting this fall, with a new, winding district that snakes around southern Mecklenburg County to capture as many conservative voters as possible, in a district that is trending left.
Republican lawmakers were allowed this year, under a recent state Supreme Court ruling, to redraw the state’s political districts explicitly for political reasons. For Cotham, GOP leaders changed her district from one where just 38% of voters supported former Republican President Donald Trump in 2020 to a new version where Trump would have won with 50.1% of the vote.
So, although the district is Republican-leaning, it is also close enough that Cotham will not be guaranteed re-election in 2024. It will be one of the few competitive districts anywhere in the state, based on past election data. Democrats are likely to push hard to overturn it.