North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham officially joined the Republican Party April 5, telling reporters she made the switch because she perceived the current Democratic Party to be intolerant.
“The modern-day Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and to so many others throughout this state and this country,” Cotham stated during a Wednesday morning press conference. “The party wants to villainize anyone who has free thought, free judgement, has solutions and wants to get to work to better our state.”
“If you don’t do exactly what the Democrats want you to do, they will try to bully you. They will try to cast you aside,” she added.
Cotham told reporters that upon returning to the new legislative session in January, she was told by her fellow Democratic officials that she needed to vote in lockstep with other Democrats to support Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s agenda.
“I will not be controlled by anyone,” she told reporters. “I have always been a free thinker, a woman of faith, a person of independent judgement, and of common sense.”
Rather than being praised for her independence, Cotham claimed she was called a “traitor” or a “spy” anytime she sought to reach across the aisle and work on problems with her Republican colleagues. “That is a terrible mentality and [it’s] just wrong what is happening in politics,” she stated.
Cotham’s decision to leave the Democratic Party and join the Republicans will give the GOP a supermajority in the North Carolina legislature, granting them veto power over Gov. Cooper. Her switch, therefore, was met with disdain by her former Democratic colleagues in the House who demanded she resign her seat over the switch.
Cotham, however, gave no indication that she would support every Republican stance, telling reporters, “I am still the same person, and I am going to do what I believe is right and follow my conscience.”
Calling her decision to switch parties, “deceit of the highest order,” Democratic Chair Anderson Clayton lambasted Cotham for putting North Carolina’s “future as a state” on the line, according to ABC 11 News.
Republicans, meanwhile, welcomed the switch with House Speaker Tim Moore assuring Cotham at the press conference that her independence would be valued under the “big tent” of the Republican Party. Moore added that even though Republicans in the state do not always see eye to eye on issues and sometimes vote against the mainstream party line, they “move on” without attacking one another in the media.
“We are thrilled to have Rep. Cotham join the Republican Party to advance solutions for North Carolina families,” NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley stated, according to ABC 11 News. “This announcement continues to reflect that the Democratic Party is too radical for North Carolina. The values of the Republican Party align with voters, and the People of Mecklenburg County should be proud to have her representation in Raleigh.”
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