North Carolina State Rep. Tricia Cotham has switched her political party to Republican, giving the GOP a veto-proof majority in the state House of Representatives in the middle of the legislative session.
WRAL TV first reported the possibility of a change on Tuesday.
“The party wants to villainize anyone who has free thought, free judgment, has solutions and wants to get to work to better our state,” Cotham said at a press conference Wednesday. “Not just sit in a meeting and have a workshop after a workshop, but really work with individuals to get things done.”
Cotham later added: “What happened to the concept of a big tent party? What happened to these ideas that we’re inclusive, we’re tolerant, we’re so welcoming to everybody. No, you’re not.”
Cotham represents a Democratic-leaning district in the Charlotte area.
The move has major implications for politics in the state — Republicans lost veto-proof majority in the 2018 elections and were one seat shy of the majority following the 2022 midterms.
House Minority Leader Robert Reives slammed the move, telling WRAL the person joining the GOP “is not the person those constituents campaigned for in a hard primary, and who they championed in a general election in a 60% Democratic district.”
“Those constituents deserved to know what values were most important to their elected representative,” Reives continued. “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.”
Rep. John Torbett, a Republican who co-chairs the House Education Committee alongside Cotham, called the decision “exciting.”
“I think it was a personal decision on her. She’s a fine woman. Been here before, obviously knows the ropes. And you’ll have to ask her as to the necessity of a change. But I’ve talked to so many others before that have made that change. And they said, in essence, ‘You know, I didn’t leave the party. The party left me.'”