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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: GTHTC (Go to Hell, Tricia Cotham)

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North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) stands at the N.C. GOP Headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., backed by numerous N.C. Republicans after she officially announced her change in party affiliation. Cotham was previously a Democrat until her announcement on Wednesday, April 5.

North Carolina Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) formally switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican at a press conference last week. This move gives Republicans 60 percent of the seats in both chambers, creating a supermajority in the N.C. General Assembly. 

Cotham won her seat in Eastern Mecklenburg County with 59 percent of the vote in 2022. With a lifetime rating of just 16 percent from the Conservative Political Action Committee's legislative accountability center and a 78 percent rating in 2016 from the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, Cotham has been a fairly liberal representative from a Democrat-leaning suburban district.  

The news comes after a wave of backlash from her former Democratic colleagues, who criticized Cotham and two others – Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) and Rep. Michael Wray (D-Halifax, Northampton, Warren) – for missing a veto override vote. 

Without Cotham and other Democrats present, N.C. Republicans repealed a law requiring residents to get a permit from the sheriff's office to purchase a pistol. Cotham said she opposed the bill but missed the 9:30 a.m. vote because she was receiving treatment for long COVID-19. 

Republicans already hold a supermajority in the state Senate and, with Cotham's vote, will be able to override any veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. This, along with a new conservative majority on the N.C. Supreme Court, essentially gives the GOP full control over North Carolina politics — despite being an alleged swing state.

If Cotham's decision feels like a betrayal of the Mecklenburg voters that brought her into office, that’s because it is. If this feels like a betrayal of N.C. Democrats, that’s because it is.

To put our feelings in the simplest of words that any Tar Heel can understand, GTHTC.

Switching parties after being voted into office in November is not only disingenuous but also a harmful game of partisan charades that her constituents didn’t ask to be a part of. This move does not reflect the values Cotham ran on, violating the transparency that is supposed to exist between herself and her constituents.

Cotham told WSOC-TV that nothing has changed after this switch and that she will continue to fight for those in her district. She said that criticisms directed toward her and her family from Democrats prompted her realignment.

While this may be true, it’s far from meaningful. Cotham has handed the baton to N.C. Republicans without care or consideration for how this powerful supermajority can create dangerous conditions in our state.

It is clear that she has no interest in protecting progressive values in North Carolina. Instead, she put Republicans in a prime position to commandeer legislative policymaking and agenda-setting that would not have otherwise been possible.

This is bad for reproductive care, as N.C. Republicans have shown they have no interest in protecting the right to abortion. It’s bad for advancing regulations on firearms, an area of policy that Cotham has literally decided to sit out. Further, it has the potential to be outright dangerous for LGBTQ+ individuals, especially transgender youth who face state-level prohibitions on gender-affirming care across the South.

It’s bigger than Cotham. And she knows that.

How are voters supposed to trust Cotham – or any moderate Democrat – to do the right thing when she has already screwed us over? We sure as hell don’t.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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