Tricia Cotham, who was 28 at the time, ran for a state legislative seat in 2007 on the promise that she would bring a new perspective to the legislature. Furthermore, it was effective.
Cotham received 23 of 32 votes from Democratic officials in House District 100, enough to secure an appointment to the vacated seat one month after former N.C. House Speaker James B. Black of Matthews resigned before pleading guilty to federal and state corruption charges.
“They want somebody who will play fair. And I’ll play fair,” Cotham told The Charlotte Observer at the time. She had to deal with criticism that she wasn’t actually a resident of the district, so she sold her house in Mint Hill and bought a townhouse in the area, which at the time included everything from Eastland Mall to Matthews.
She bragged about her love of politics and her family’s history of Democratic Party service. Cotham is likely to break with her family’s political tradition on Wednesday when she announces her move to the Republican Party, giving the GOP a supermajority in the North Carolina House and ignoring the Democrats who attacked her heavily for skipping a veto override vote a week ago.
The story was initially reported by Axios Raleigh. Rep. Cecil Brockman, a Democrat from Guilford County, told The News & Observer that the recent veto override of a bill to remove the state’s firearm permit requirement was a watershed moment in the relationship between Cotham and Democrats.
“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,” said Brockman, who also missed the veto override vote.
Further information on the Mecklenburg County representative who could tip the scales in favor of the North Carolina Republican Party is provided below.
A Family History with N.C. Politics
Her dad, John, was the county chair for the Democrats. Her mom, Pat, was the head of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Women and the Uptown Democratic Forum. Pat Cotham currently serves as a Democratic county commissioner.
Her great-grandmother worked on former President Harry Truman’s campaign and was a delegate from Missouri to the 1948 Democratic National Convention.
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A family history with N.C. politics
After the lines for the 12th Congressional District were revised in 2016, Tricia Cotham decided to run for Congress. She served in the state senate from 2007 to 2016. “You have to be able to work across the aisle (and) build relationships without ever compromising your principles,” she said at the time. “I have an effective leadership style.”
With 42.51 percent of the vote in the 2016 Democratic primary, Rep. Alma Adams was elected. Of the seven candidates, Cotham received the third-most votes (21.13%). With roughly 49% of the vote in a four-candidate primary and 59% in the general election, Cotham was re-elected to the legislature in 2022.
Parts of east Charlotte and Mint Hill are included in her 112th House District in Mecklenburg County. About 60% of voters in the district choose Democrats in the 2016 and 2020 presidential, governor, and attorney general races, according to the website Dave’s Redistricting.
The Mecklenburg County Board of Election said on Tuesday that it had received no requests to switch Cotham’s party affiliation from the Democratic Party. According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, she has only participated in Democratic Party primaries.
A Career in Education
Attended Providence High School in 1997, UNC Charlotte in 2001, and UNC Chapel Hill for her master’s in school administration in 2006. A public school educator, she had worked at both Northeast Middle School and Independence High.
In 2001, she was named Teacher of the Year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. East Mecklenburg High School had an assistant principal in her service. Despite the Republican majority in the House, in January of 2013, she was appointed to serve as the committee’s co-chair.
Republicans also voted to bring her position closer to the front of the house. Currently, she is leading the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education.
Cotham’s switch from Democrat to Republican would solidify the NCGOP’s unrivaled power in the N.C. House. https://t.co/wY845eKIcI
— The News & Observer (@newsobserver) April 5, 2023
Working with Republicans
When Republican Thom Tillis became Speaker of the House in 2010, she and other Mecklenburg County Democrats backed him. During his time as a minority member of the House under Democratic control, Tim Moore stood out to Cotham as “He was one of the few Republicans who worked well with Democrats and who Democrats tried to win over sometimes.” Moore was eventually elected speaker of the House in 2015.
She has made no secret in recent years of her struggle with lengthy COVID. Fatigue, fever, and respiratory problems might manifest months or years after a diagnosis of the infection. The General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto for the first time since 2018 on March 29. The requirement for a handgun permit in the state is being eliminated by Senate Bill 41.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Cotham was one of three Democrats who missed the 71-46 vote because they had to attend a medical visit related to long-term COVID. She publicly stated her stance against the bill. A Charlotte County Democrat who voted against the veto override has come out against the elimination of firearm permits.
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