The party switch that set off a North Carolina earthquake

Rep. Tricia Cotham’s (R) return to Raleigh may end up brief, but it has been impactful.
North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham announces she is switching affiliation to the Republican Party at a news conference Wednesday, April 5, 2023, at the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters in Raleigh, N.C. The change gives Republican state legislators a veto-proof supermajority in both chambers. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

It is rare in legislative politics that a single member’s decision can drastically change a state’s political atmosphere. But in North Carolina, state Rep. Tricia Cotham’s decision to leave the Democratic Party and join Republicans fundamentally realigned the balance of power.

Cotham, 44, won election to her deep blue Mecklenburg County district in the 2022 midterms, six years after her first round of service. She had been encouraged to return to politics by top Democrats in the area — and, quietly, by some leading Republicans in the General Assembly.

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