North Carolina lawmaker officially leaves Dems for GOP, says turning point was American flag criticism

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A lawmaker in North Carolina announced Wednesday that she’s leaving the Democratic Party and becoming a Republican, giving the GOP a veto-proof majority in the state legislature.

State Rep. Tricia Cotham, who represents a district near Charlotte, joined state House and Senate Republican leaders at the North Carolina GOP headquarters for a press conference to unveil her switch.

The “modern-day Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and others across the state,” said Cotham. “I will not be controlled by anyone.”

The turning point for Cotham, she explained, was when she was criticized for using the American flag and praying hands emoji on social media and on her vehicles.

Democrats have been “blasting me on Twitter to calling me names, coming after my family, coming after my children,” continued Cotham. “That is wrong.” She added that a woman cursed her out at a store while she was shopping with her son.

House Minority Leader Robert Reives said Cotham should have instead resigned from her seat because she campaigned to pursue a Democrat policy agenda in a heavily Democratic district.

“Now, just a few months later, Rep. Cotham is changing parties. That is not the person that was presented to the voters of House District 112,” Reives said in a statement. “Those constituents deserved to know what values were most important to their elected representative.”

However, North Carolina Republicans were quick to welcome the newest member of their caucus.

“This announcement continues to reflect that the Democratic Party is too radical for North Carolina,” state GOP chair Michael Whatley said in a statement. “The values of the Republican Party align with voters, and the people of Mecklenburg County should be proud to have her representation in Raleigh.”

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U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, who formerly served as the state’s House speaker, said he and Cotham joined the chamber together in 2007 and called her “a no-nonsense legislator who works hard to make a positive difference for all North Carolinians.”

Cotham’s announcement has major political implications for North Carolina, a swing state where Republicans had been just one seat short of a supermajority in the legislature.

While North Carolina Republicans have held majorities in both the state’s House and Senate chambers for years, the threat of a veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has prevented them from implementing much of their agenda.

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Cotham’s decision to join the GOP gives Republicans a clear path with a veto-proof majority to push a wide range of legislation, from reforming education to restricting abortion, without necessarily needing to compromise with Cooper.

Cotham alleged during Wednesday’s press conference that Cooper “tells you what to do” and that the Democratic Party will “bully” those who don’t do what the party wants

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