N.C. Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) held a press conference this morning at the N.C. GOP Headquarters in Raleigh with state Republican leaders to announce her official defection from the Democratic Party.
Cotham's switch gives Republicans a supermajority in both houses of the N.C. General Assembly, allowing them to push through policy more easily and override any of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes.
Many prominent state Republicans joined Cotham at the press conference, including N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland, Rutherford), N.C. Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell, Watauga), N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham).
Cotham ran as a Democrat and defeated her Republican opponent Tony Long by about 19 percent in the 2022 election.
Since news of her decision broke, she has been called on to resign by top state Democrats, including the state party chairperson Anderson Clayton and N.C. House Democratic Leader Rep. Robert Reives (D-Chatham, Randolph).
Legislation including stricter abortion laws can now be more easily be passed by the legislature. Cotham said she has never thought abortion rights "was the biggest issue facing women in North Carolina."
But, in January, Cotham co-sponsored a bill to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade and make abortion legal until viability. In May 2022, while she was campaigning for the seat and running as a Democrat, Cotham tweeted that she would fight to codify Roe and continue her "strong record of defending the right to choose."
During the press conference, she refused to give a specific number of weeks that her ideal abortion ban would be placed at.
"What has really changed?" she said at the press conference. "I am still going to stand strong on my convictions. But I'm not going to be pigeonholed into any one issue."