Published April 6, 2023

By Thomas Mills

Rep. Tricia Cotham’s switch from Democrat to Republican tells us a lot about her.First, she clearly lacks any firm political principles, which, in my book, means she lacks character. Second, she probably cut a deal with the GOP to draw her a safe district when they re-gerrymander this summer. Third, she’s more concerned about her political career than the people she represents. Finally, if Cotham thinks she’s protecting her political future, she doesn’t have a very good sense of history when it comes to switching parties.

Cotham has long been part of the Democratic Party establishment. She was married to former State Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek. Her mother, Pat Cotham, is a Mecklenburg County Commissioner and former delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Cotham served in the state house until 2016 as a Democrat. She ran last year promising to bring progressive leadership to Raleigh.

Clearly, Cotham is not bringing progressive leadership. She took a walk on the vote that allowed Republicans to override Governor Cooper’s veto of the bill to end pistol permits. Progressives called foul and threatened to primary her. They scared her so bad, she switched parties. Cotham lacks both backbone and convictions. 

In the modern GOP, there’s no room for pro-choice elected officials so I guess Cotham will become pro-life even though Cotham has claimed to be strongly pro-choice throughout her career. She was once a co-sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, but I guess she no longer believes in that, either. She also co-sponsored legislation to create a living wage, but that’s certainly not part of the Republican agenda. She was a supporter of equal pay for equal work for women, but I guess that was all just a ruse. According to her website, Cotham “was proud to sponsor legislation to expand access to voter registration for young people, enact same-day registration, and extend early voting to include Sunday voting when many organizations conduct ‘Souls to the Polls’.” I wonder how that will sit with her new colleagues? Did she believe all that stuff or, nah, it was just what her Democratic voters wanted to hear?

I imagine Cotham heard the calls to primary her in 2024 and took Republicans’ offer to draw her a safe district. She won a contested primary in 2022 and then won her safe Democratic seat by 20 points. She clearly can’t win that seat as a Republican. If the GOP promised her a district, they’ll have to make it safe for any Republican, not just a newly minted one. Her campaign website alone would be enough to make a GOP primary tough to win. 

Most politicians who switch parties also end their political careers. Maybe that’s what Cotham is doing. Or maybe she’s angling for an appointment. Only one thing is certain. Whatever happens, it’s about Tricia Cotham, not her constituents or the state of North Carolina. 

Cotham claims Democrats have been mean to her. Well, boo hoo. Get a backbone. She says she doesn’t recognize the modern Democratic Party, but she recognizes the modern GOP? Give me a break. I have my problems with the party’s left flank, but I’m not walking away from the party of Joe Biden, Roy Cooper, Robert Reives, and Dan Blue for the party of Donald Trump, Mark Robinson, and Kevin McCarthy.

I’m a partisan. I don’t have much use for party switchers, especially in this political environment. Cotham is not a lifelong conservative who finally got tired of fighting her party. No, she’s a transactional player who just joined a party that opposes most of what she says she supported less than six months ago. She’s abandoning the values she claimed to hold for decades. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a traitor and they can have her.