NC Democrat expected to change parties
A North Carolina Democratic lawmaker is expected to flip her party affiliation, multiple Republicans with knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.
- The move would cement Republicans' toe-hold in a fast-changing swing state, handing them a veto-proof majority in the middle of the legislative session and a clear runway to enact their agenda despite opposition from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Driving the news: Republicans, who are currently just one seat short of a supermajority in the legislature, have been hoping that state Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Democrat from Charlotte, might switch parties at some point this session, but the prospect began to seem more realistic last week, a Republican House member said.
- Cotham is expected to announce her decision Wednesday. House Republicans announced a 9am press conference Tuesday for a "major announcement."
Why it matters: Republicans have held majorities in both the state House and the Senate for more than a decade, but in recent years, the threat of Cooper's veto has kept the party's power in check.
- A supermajority could free up party leaders to more easily push long-hoped-for legislation restricting abortion and all but eliminate their need to compromise with the governor on the budget, changes to election laws and education reform.
Details: Cotham didn't respond to Axios' request for comment, so it's not clear what's driving her consideration to switch.
- One possible factor, though, is that Cotham recently skipped a vote to override Cooper's veto of Republican-sponsored legislation relaxing some gun laws, handing Republicans the votes they needed to usher the bill into law.
- That set into motion a cascade of blowback against Cotham, driven by Democrats criticizing her for not showing.
What they're saying: Rep. Cecil Brockman, who is also a moderate Democrat, told the News & Observer he doesn't blame Cotham and said he thought the reaction from Democrats drove her to switch parties.
- "I think she just wanted to do what's best for her district and when you're constantly talked about and trashed — especially the way that we have been over the past few weeks — I think this is what happens," Brockman said.
- Democratic House minority leader Rep. Robert Reives called for Cotham to resign in a press release Tuesday afternoon.
This story has been updated to include responses from Democratic lawmakers.
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