MATTHEWS: Fissures in the NC Democratic party widen after Tricia Cotham switches to the GOP

State Rep. Tricia Cotham announces her move to the Republican Party on April 5, 2023 in Raleigh. North State Journal

Though former President Donald Trump’s arraignment was undeniably the biggest news of last week in American politics, another huge political story was also playing out in North Carolina — and it’s one that, unlike the Trump news, has Democrats seething with rage and telling on themselves in the process. 

During a press conference last Wednesday, Democrat state Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Charlottean who comes from a family of prominent Democrat leaders in local politics, announced she was switching to the Republican Party. 

During her presser, Cotham talked about what she’d experienced as a Democrat legislator who, more than most of her colleagues on the left, would sometimes work with Republicans in order to get things done. 

“It became very clear to me in early January that you better vote in line with what Gov. [Roy] Cooper wants you to do … all in this sense of control. I will not be controlled by anyone,” she said. 

“The modern-day Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and to so many others around this state and this country,” Cotham also stated. “The party wants to villainize anyone who has free thought, free judgment, has solutions, who wants to get to work to better our state. Not just sit in a meeting and have a workshop after a workshop, but really work with individuals to get things done. 

“Because that’s what real public servants do. If you don’t do exactly what Democrats want you to do, they will try to bully you, they will try to cast you aside.” 

Cotham’s switch, which gave House Republicans a veto-proof majority, caused meltdowns on the Democratic side, with the prevailing sentiment being that she should “resign” for her supposed “betrayal” of voters in her reliably blue district. 

Some Democrats, including former state Rep. Chaz Beasley, essentially accused Cotham of lying about how she was treated by Democrats, especially Cooper. 

“Never once did Gov. Cooper make me vote a certain way. Never once did he tell me which committees to join. He definitely didn’t tell me where to sit. This ain’t it,” Beasley proclaimed. 

Except yeah, it is kinda “it.” There are receipts to prove how often Cooper bullies Democrats who don’t fall in line, as former Democratic state Sen. Kirk deViere, to name just one, can attest. 

Cooper also strong-armed Democrats in the state legislature during his time as the state’s attorney general, effectively keeping a compromise bill on the controversial HB2 “bathroom bill” from happening in the summer of 2016 because he wanted to continue to use it as a wedge issue in his election fight against then-Gov. Pat McCrory. 

As WBTV News reported at the time, 10 Democrats were on board with a compromise bill, but that changed once Cooper began making some phone calls. 

“We started losing Democrats,” one person who reportedly took part in the negotiations told the news outlet. “We were told Cooper was making personal phone calls to the 10 Democratic members saying if they wanted to be on the team in November they needed to vote against the bill.” 

Democrat Joel Ford, a former state senator, also weighed in when attacked over his previous and very public disagreements with the North Carolina Democratic Party. 

“Yeah and Dems turned on me like a wild pack of dogs,” Ford tweeted. “The most dangerous thing a democrat can be today is an independent thinker.” 

I think it’s become pretty clear at this point that the intolerance of the North Carolina Democratic Party when it comes to dissenting views and their mindless obedience to wokeness is pushing people, including current and former state lawmakers, away. And sadly for North Carolina Democrats, Cotham may not be the only one to switch in this election cycle. 

As always, stay tuned. 

North Carolina native Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym Sister Toldjah and is a media analyst and regular contributor to RedState and Legal Insurrection.