by | Apr 5, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 35 comments

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.


  1. Mark

    I have read the comments – I find it really hard to believe that “mean” Democrats sent her into Republican arms. Many of her professed grievances – such as Democrats not applauding when Speaker Moore honored her as the youngest woman ever to serve in the NC House (back in 2007 when she was appointed). Democrats said they applauded – there wasn’t some vendetta for her. More likely, she was a Trojan Horse. A traditional Democrat out of office for six years and all of a sudden she registers to run in the primary at the very last minute and her donations come from so-called business interests. Mecklenberg Democrats have shared she wasn’t returning their called in 2022. The whole thing feels like it was preplanned from over a year ago. Get elected as a traditional Democrat and then feign how her party has changed and how mean they got when she missed an important vote that dropped requiring permits on handgun sales. That day she dressed in red and referred to her former party as “The Democrat Party” – a long running Republican slur tells us clearly this didn’t just happed over the last few months. So who is the bigger fraud – Long Island’s George Santos with his fabricated biography but his voting with his Republican colleagues – or Tricia Cotham who told voters to elect here so she could codify Roe, protect LBTGQ+ community, expand voting rights, and raise the minimum wage?

  2. Opusworks

    She let the gun legislation pass unopposed. And the moment she switches sides, total abortion ban legislation is introduced; as is anti-trans legislation; as is legislation to strip power from the governor. These are all things the majority of North Carolina residents oppose, but our voice are gerrymandered into silence, and worse yet, stripped by someone who misrepresented herself. People canvassed, donated, and voted for someone who allegedly held their principles, only to find it was a lie. It must be nice to have loose convictions. I hope her constituents let her know just what they think of her on a daily basis.

  3. teddyrooseveltprogressive

    Cotham’s party switch, three months after she ran and was elected on a platform that’s the polar opposite of the party she’s joining, makes me doubt anything she said. “Bullying”? How do we know that happened at all? And, if it did happen, how do we know these were Democrats doing the bullying – it’s not hard at all for Republican dirty tricksters to leave anonymous phone calls, voice mails, or letters. If she’s operating an independent political consulting firm, how do we know that the switch wasn’t made in exchange for (or the promise of) “consulting fees” for her business? Does Cotham have some desperate need for money because of some kind of personal issues? (People with a drug or gambling habit or debts are perfectly willing to sell out their employer or even their country if they see no other option.) If they promised her a “safe” district, what’s preventing a Republican from using her switch and lack of trustworthiness to defeat her in a primary? Any sane person would consider that when making this party-switch decision.

    Nothing about this whole affair makes any kind of sense. Unfortunately, the truth of what’s happened probably won’t come out until after her defection causes immeasurable harm to the citizens of NC.

  4. Jesse S Goslen

    She runs a bipartisan consulting business, she will probably be getting a lot of republican business now, I am sure this is about money. Follow the Money

  5. JB

    At the end of the day, the fact remains that the seat she was elected to does not belong to HER, it belongs to the people of the 112th District. If she has any shame at all, she’ll resign and return its to its rightful owner. But then she would have no utility to the GQP, and they would kick her to the curb in a nanosecond. She made a deal with the devil, perhaps because she’s screwing him, or perhaps to spite her ex-husband (hell having no fury, etc.). Either way, she’ll fit right in with the con artists of todays Republicans. This was a bait and switch con of such proportion that you almost want to admire the scope of it.


  6. Jay Ligon

    Only in office since January 1, 2023, 90 days, more or less. Cotham won her seat as a Democratic member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 112 in the general election on November 8, 2022, 5 months ago. One does not turn her back on deeply held beliefs in such a short time. If you do, those beliefs are not deeply held.

    To gain her current position, she convinced democrats to knock on doors, hold rallies and invest in her candidacy. She spent money donated by Democrats and made promises to people about what she would do for them. None of those things she promised and claimed to believe were true. She did not believe her own words when she spoke to her supporters.

    Cotham will run in another year against a real Democrat and probably a real Republican. No one can trust her. She’s not really Republican enough to be a real Republican, and she was being duplicitous when she said she was a real democrat. If she adopts the Republican playbook, she must take a 180-degree turn in philosophy and her world view.

    There are big issues that separate Democrats and Republicans. – Republicans oppose democracy, abortion, voting rights, gay marriage, education, history, books and so much else. Cotham will find many mean people in the Republican Party. With friends like her can blame them?..

  7. Morris

    If/when someone switches from R to D, do you still call them traitors?
    Most of my family are multi-generational Democrats. Nearly all have switched in the last few years – most to R, and in my case to L.
    “In my opinion, if you stick an R next to your name, you are morally, intellectually, and ideologically bankrupt.” Wow, I’ll have to share that with my mother this weekend. As a former NC public school teacher and a longtime healthcare worker with multiple graduate degrees who switched from D to R not long ago, she’ll be thrilled to learn she’s morally and intellectually bankrupt!
    That’s where we are I guess. We used to disagree on opinions, now we hate those who hold different opinions. Scary.

    • Barbara M Dantonio

      Sadly, you are morally bankrupt. Look at the Legislation you support. All about you and nothing about others. Keep drinking the Kool aid.

    • MG

      I think this is about misrepresentation. She ran as a Dem. So she should stick to that. If she wants to switch parties for the next election, then she should be free to do so. She’s in public service so she should be held to a higher standard than citizens who switch one party or the other.

    • cocodog

      Traitor may be a little harsh, but you have got to admit some of the Republican backed shenanigans, Ex. attempting to interfere with legislative proceedings, beating up capital police officers, defacing historic property and promoting the big lie have snacked of treason.

    • Vonna Viglione

      When the Republicans have created such a record as they NOW have, they are worthy of being disparaged. I grew up in a mixed marriage before there were such differences in the parties. MOST people crave solid, sane and competent leadership. MOST people want fiscal responsibility, including from and for the wealthy and “corporate” citizens. MOST people do want EVERYONE to do well and yet protect this earth and our air and water. Most people don’t believe we need military weaponry in the hands of civilians. MOST people want a vibrant, strong democracy. MOST people INSIST on the sanctity of bodily autonomy. Unfortunately, none of those positions describe today’s Republican party.

      • Judy Cook

        Her ex husband is a Dem activist. The GOP found some dirt on her. Good reporters will ferret that out. Stay tuned. jmo

    • ringlet86

      No its not where “we are” Its where Democrats are. They have literally “jumped the shark” and heading footloose and fancy free into insanity. They are so far gone that THEY WANT IT!

      Its never good when only total and complete obedience to the party is required. Its Creepy, Orwellian, Totalitarian and certainly not an American trait. American are to be free Individuals and independent thinkers, not party slobs doing as they are told “or else.”

      Maybe someday they will correct themselves and become a party I can once again call home.

      But now. Its not possible.

    • Bill Cokas

      If you switched to R “not long ago,” you knowingly switched to the party of Trump. That says all that needs to be said about your values.

    • Bob

      Well, YEAH! Your traitorous relatives might not be intellectually bankrupt but they sure as @#$%! are morally! Go on and enjoy your new anti-democracy, anti-law enforcement, pro-Putin playmates!!

  8. JWN


    I’ve heard so many different stories over the past 24 hours since the news of Tricia’s defection broke. With a shift of this magnitude- one that handed the NC GOP the supermajority it coveted without having to win an election- so many people’s well-being now hang in the balance. Women and their bodies, the agency and dignity of the LGBTQ community (esp. the ever-maligned and mauled trans community), election integrity, and the station of working class and poor North Carolinians. It’s a profound shock. And yes it is a betrayal to both the voters who elected Tricia and the North Carolina Democratic Party of which she, her mother, her ex-husband and her political consultants have been card-carrying insiders for decades.

    Tricia Cotham has stated her reasons for defecting- basically “they [Democrats] were mean…the Party moved away from me.” Yesterday her mother stated that “she [Tricia] feared for her safety…and that of her children”.

    Then there’s the rumor posited to me today by a Mecklenburg County elected leader as well as a blogger(s) over at BlueNC- the “Tricia and Tim Moore” are dating theory.

    My initial theory was that “Moore is going to protect Cotham” after the North Carolina state Supreme Court (assuming it votes along partisan lines in its rehearing of 413PA21-2 Harper, et al. v Hall, et al.) allows the General Assembly to redraw districting maps.

    And an hour ago an informed NCDP source related to me their theory that Rep. Dan Bishop plans to run for Lieutentant Governor and Tricia Cotham will run as a Republican for his US House seat in 2024.

    Of the above, I don’t believe that the Cothams’ telling of poor treatment by Democrats is to blame for her defection. Tricia is tougher than that. I don’t give a damn whether she and Tim Moore are dating. That leaves the scenario of either (i) Moore having given Cotham an assurance of protection for her NC House seat, and/or (ii) the NC GOP having given her its implicit backing in 2024 for the US House in the event that Dan Bishop elects to run for AG in North Carolina. Those scenarios make the most sense because from a purely-political standpoint, they are the smart moves by both Cotham and the NC GOP.

    Thomas used the term “transactional” and that descriptor so aptly captures whatever Faustian bargain Ms. Cotham may have struck with Speaker Moore. Tricia did what many politicians do (see Kyrsten Sinema): she looked after her self-interest first and foremost. That should come as a shock to no one. She’s a politician. She made a deal. Speaker Moore engineered a political coup: he snared a Democratic blue-blood out from under the NCDP. A power move. Tactically brilliant.

    Whatever the nature of the transaction, it was a win-win for both Cotham and Moore. Clearly from the perspective of those of us not in the Republican Party this was not only a betrayal but a mystery. We all woke and asked “Just who the hell is she and what does she stand for?” Regardless, Tim Moore and Tricia Cotham have a plan to further disrupt the dwindling legislative power of the Democratic Party in North Carolina. We are losing.

    • vonna vglione

      Not EVERY “politician” is a rank opportunist. Whatever else she is, she is that. And if ANYBODY threatened her or her children she needs to give details and have it investigated. Call me skeptical that she’ll ever do that.

    • ringlet86

      The republicans would have gotten the super majority the next election anyway.

      NC is a red state and the democrats are on the path.

      The voters see this. In the end this one seat does not matter.

  9. Linda Watt

    All of us need to be more generous to our fellow human beings. Sorry, but I don’t think we can write this off with “grow a backbone”. The political atmosphere is so hostile (both parties) that people with nuanced views are excoriated and ostracized. And hey, that is where most voters are. Yes, I am angry that this politician betrayed her constituents for whatever emolument was offered. but it does sound like she was subjected to considerable abuse for non-adherence to party expectations. Let the leadership chew her out, but harassing her 12 year old? Really? Beyond the pale.

    • Vonna Viglione

      WHO GAVE HER CHILD GRIEF? Count me skeptical. That particular tactic is in the wheelhouse of right wing GOP extremists more than anyone else.

    • ringlet86

      …” politician betrayed her constituents for whatever emolument was offered.”

      Lets keep it simple. She simply got tired of their shit.

      and then ….”harassing her 12 year old? Really? Beyond the pale.”

      That’s right So she went from “Sigh really this is stupid” (yelling at her)… “fuck these people.”(when they threatened her child. And now (rightly) she is gone.
      Who do these people think they are? to do that?

      The bigger problem Democrats and leftist have forgotten how to be polite (or they don’t bother to try) especially if you don’t agree with them. Its everywhere in our society and country. Left leaning people spouting off, being unruly, rude disrespectful and violent and they are ALL left leaning Democrat types.

      You reap what you sow, and normal people are walking away from the crap.

  10. Andy Stevens

    Didn’t Representative Brisson do the same thing a few terms back? If Representative Cotham votes as a conservative, she’ll win as a conservative going forward

  11. Bobby Padgett II

    Word on the street is that Tricia is sleeping with Moore, hence the switch. Catherine Truitt is eyeing a run for It. gov so Tricia is planning a GOP run for State Superintendent as a former teacher.

    • Barbara M Dantonio

      I said it was a man, money and redistricting. Before I started investigating. Looks like I may have 2 out of 3. Looking for the money.

    • Charlotte Voter

      So a woman who elects to send her kids to private school wants to be in charge of our state’s public school system…..

      • Bill Cokas

        ANOTHER one? Like we needed a sequel to Betsy DeVos.

        • ringlet86

          Because the State public school system has gone into pushing viewpoints and narratives (Social indoctrination) instead of staying in their lane and staying out of the areas where its the parents job.

          Who needs the grief of having to deprogram your children every week?

          And they few things they teach, they do a poor job.

          So yeah I can see why., and money has nothing to do with it,

  12. Mike

    Cotham just destroyed her legacy, as I have no doubt a large number of current Repubs will end up in future history books as traitors and domestic terrorists. This is the digital age, and history was pretty accurately told in the print age so these morally bankrupt fools are toast. They have all destroyed their legacies and will have future generations distance themselves as a result. History will not forgive the countless number of times Republicans have committed treason and murdered Americans. Republicans are terrorists and the worst humans on earth.

  13. Joe Beamish

    In my opinion, if you stick an R next to your name, you are morally, intellectually, and ideologically bankrupt. This is a party that colludes with terrorists (1/6/21), deny climate change, are anti-vaxxers, side with Putin, stick-up for Trump at a time when they simply say nothing, believe a ball of cells needs protecting but children do not, ad infinitum…

  14. Katie R.

    I agree with Mike. She should have gone independent and voted her conscience if she felt boxed in by far left Democrats. Her switch makes me sad.

  15. Mike L

    I think this is all rather unfortunate. I’m a moderate Democrat from one of the most purple counties in the state (New Hanover) and I do understand that she was likely fed up with being bullied to vote in line with the party as there is probably enormous pressure to vote a certain way on issues. She doesn’t fit in to the GOP mold at all though so unless she does a complete 180 I doubt she’ll find life easy there either. I’m thinking she should have just switched to Independent/Unaffiliated if she really wanted to make a statement without boxing herself in. That would have more freely allowed her to vote her conscience on issues.

    • Tony Armstrong

      This is one great example of personal virtue being a public vice. Becoming an independent — would have been personally virtuous. Politically (the public vice), if one wants to continue to be an elected official, the party apparatus of either of the major parties is crucial to that desire.

      Cotham likely realized that, as the writer suggests, she would be primaried, and in a strongly blue district where she was at best now acting in a shade of purple, she saw the handwriting and panicked.

      “Demit from the NCDP, go hat-in-hand to the NCGOP bend the knee and pledge my fealty, and ask for a safe district to be carved out” was likely her thinking exactly. Problem is, her political persona is definitely far to the left of most GOPers so what’s keeping her from being primaried by them in a future election? I think she’ll rue the day that she made this decision ultimately, and whatever public legacy she hoped to create is likely damaged beyond reasonable repair.

      • ringlet86

        At this point I would assume she doe not care. She screwed the people that threatened her family, and is likely done with politics.

        She probably has options and this job does not matter very much in the big scheme.

        • TC

          If that is a fact, then why didn’t she just resign? You know, being fed up and all with the power pushing and the threats to her family.

          • ringlet86

            Before this she was likely irked by the stupidity, but could deal with it.
            Yelling at her because the repugs got what they wanted was probably like
            Wow! These people are unhinged.)

            Messing with her family was an “fuck these people I am going to burn this shit down” moment.
            Democrats have taken to bullying for everything all the time now. You are with us or against us,,, No room for dissent or even a discussion. Tow 100% of the line 100% of the time no matter how stupid or else.

            She obviously was done playing that crap. She tolerated it up until unhinged democrats messed with her kids.

            Ya know not even the Italian Mafia (a criminal enterprise,) would mess with an adversaries family. It was off limits.

            Democrats had better get control of their people.

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