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McClatchy Washington Bureau
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Danielle Battaglia

NC Democrats call for Rep. Cotham’s resignation as she switches to GOP

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Robert Reives and several Democrat-led organizations called Tuesday for the resignation of Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham, the day before she switched her party affiliation.

The announcement, made at a Wednesday news conference at NCGOP headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, comes months after the Mecklenburg Democrat was elected to represent House District 112.

The switch would have major ramifications for control of the General Assembly, handing House Republicans a super-majority.

“Rep. Tricia Cotham campaigned as a Democrat and supporter of abortion rights, health care, public education, gun safety and civil rights,” Reives said in a news release late Tuesday. “The voters of House District 112 elected her to serve as that person and overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Now, just a few months later, Rep. Cotham is changing parties.”

Reives became the first public official to confirm news of Cotham’s party switch. Axios Raleigh, citing anonymous sources, first reported the switch.

Others calling for Cotham’s resignation include: the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the North Carolina Democratic Party, the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party and Equality NC, the largest LGBTQ advocacy and political lobbying group.

Reives, in his statement, said Cotham won in 2022 with 60% of the vote. But he said she’s no longer the person her constituents campaigned for in a difficult primary, or championed in a general election.

“Those constituents deserved to know what values were most important to their elected representative,” Reives said. “Because of that, the appropriate action is for her to resign so that her constituents are fairly represented in the North Carolina House of Representatives.”

Cotham’s decision also serves a blow to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, essentially stripping him of his veto power by giving both chambers a narrow supermajority.

“This is a disappointing decision,” Cooper said in a statement to The News & Observer. “Rep. Cotham’s votes on women’s reproductive freedom, election laws, LGBTQ rights and strong public schools will determine the direction of the state we love. It’s hard to believe she would abandon these long-held principles, and she should still vote the way she has always said she would vote when these issues arise, regardless of party affiliation.”

North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Anderson Clayton and Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chair Jane Whitley released a joint statement Tuesday evening also calling for Cotham’s resignation.

“This is deceit of the highest order,” Clayton and Whitley said. “Rep. Cotham’s decision is a betrayal to the people of (House District) HD-112 with repercussions not only for the people of her district, but for the entire state of North Carolina. If she can no longer represent the values her constituents trusted her to champion, she should resign immediately.”

Equality NC, the largest LGBTQ advocacy and political lobbying group in North Carolina, said Cotham had already betrayed their trust by voting yes on a bill that call for sheriffs to work with ICE.

The organization also called for her resignation. “Tricia Cotham sought ENC’s endorsement in 2022 affirming that she held values consistent with our own,” Equality NC tweeted. “Since then, she betrayed those values, voting against equality by supporting legislation that targets the rights of marginalized communities.”

From Washington, D.C., the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee also asked Cotham to step down. “Rep. Cotham is pulling a bait and switch on her constituents — who voted overwhelmingly for a Democrat to represent them in the House,” said interim President Heather Williams.

“Voters in North Carolina did not elect a GOP House supermajority and Rep. Cotham is placing politics over their interests.”

Williams said her organization is targeting North Carolina in 2024 to break both supermajorities and said Cotham’s actions gave Republicans “free reign to enact their extreme MAGA agenda.” “We stand with Democratic Leader Reives and echo his calls for Rep. Cotham’s resignation,” Williams said. “Her constituents deserve the leadership they voted for.”

Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, called Cotham’s actions “dishonest” and “undemocratic.” “If candidate Tricia Cotham had been honest before the election, she would not have won her seat,” Marcus tweeted. “The people of her district do not support the extreme right-wing policies that the NCGOP is shoving down our throats, now with her help.”

And the Young Democrats of NC chose to turn Cotham’s decision into a call to action on Twitter: “If you’re angry about the fact that a Democrat just handed away Gov. Cooper’s veto and threw you to the wolves, we are too — but we’re not taking this lying down. Help us get ready to fight like hell to break the supermajority in 24 — starting in District 112.”

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