RALEIGH — Rep. Tricia Cotham’s (R-Mecklenburg) defection from the Democratic to Republican Party jolted North Carolina politics when the word of the impending move became public.
As Cotham and state Republican leaders spoke on Wednesday from GOP headquarters in Raleigh, there was no shortage of comment ranging from Republicans’ joy to to Democrats’ anger over the move.
“We are thrilled to have Rep. Cotham join the Republican Party to advance solutions for North Carolina families,” said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley. “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.”
Both Republican U.S. Senators provided statements: “Voters are leaving the Democrat Party every day because its extreme agenda hurts North Carolina families,” said U.S. Sen. Ted Budd. “Far left Democrats will only fight for a radical, woke agenda — not for good, hardworking people. Rep. Cotham’s historic announcement highlights that Republicans are the only party focused on the bottom line for taxpayers here at home.“
“Tricia and I entered the N.C. House in the class of 2007,” U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis said. “She is a no nonsense legislator who works hard to make a positive difference for all North Carolinians. She is a welcome addition to the Republican caucus.”
National Republicans joined in as well.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said: “Even in a Biden district in a purple state, Democrats are reading the writing on the wall: liberal policies are too extreme and they’re failing Americans. Ahead of 2024, Republican momentum is growing and we are proud to welcome Tricia Cotham to the Republican Party.”
“The conservative agenda is alive and well in the Tar Heel State, as Republicans in Raleigh now have a supermajority in both the House and Senate chambers,” said Republican State Leadership Committee President Dee Duncan. “It will now be much easier for Republicans to continue legislating an agenda that focusses on creating jobs, safer communities and a strong economy that benefits all North Carolinians. The RSLC is proud to congratulate North Carolina Republicans on their accomplishment that only strengthens our message of building the cornerstone of the conservative movement nationwide.”
State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) said Wednesday at the announcement,” I’m here to welcome my friend. When I was appointed to the House I sat near her and we got to know one another. It’s about people and we should never lose sight of that. Whether she’s been a Democrat or Republican she will look out for the best interest of her constituents. She is the same today as she was yesterday. I’ve wanted her to come for a long time.”
Predictably, state Democrats were not happy about the news.
On Tuesday, Democratic Chair Anderson Clayton said in a statement, “This is deceit of the highest order. Rep. Cotham’s decision is a betrayal to the people of 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.”
A day later at a press conference in Raleigh, Clayton went even further.
“This is not about control or to welcome different ideas in the party. We have done that. Don’t tell me our party has not done that. I’m from a place where honesty means something. Your word ain’t good for a hill of beans though if you’re not gonna stick to it,” she said.
Clayton also asked for any other Democrats who may harbor the same feelings as Cotham did to out themselves ahead of the 2024 election cycle.
House Minority Leader Robert Reives, who Cotham said did not talk to her since her election, responded as well via statement.
“Rep. Tricia Cotham campaigned as a Democrat and supporter of abortion rights, health care, public education, gun safety, and civil rights,” said Reives. “The voters of House District 112 elected her to serve as that person and overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. That 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.”