As soon as state Rep. Tricia Cotham made the switch from the Democratic to Republican party in April, speculation began swirling about her future in politics. Democratic voters in Mecklenburg County had elected her in 2022, and if she were to run for office in 2024, the newly released redistricting maps offer her options. There are proposed districts at both the state and federal level that include her area and have no incumbent.
Republicans took charge of drawing the maps behind closed doors, making use of their supermajority in both chambers to easily pass legislation. According to state law, redistricting bills do not require the governor’s signature or veto. The maps are currently going through a committee hearing this week, with votes expected next week.
Under the new state House maps, Cotham would find herself in District 105, which is leaning Republican by a margin of 52.53% to 45.03% for Democrats, as analyzed by the website Dave’s Redistricting. However, if Cotham aspires to seek higher office, living within the district boundaries is not required for congressional races.
Senate Republicans have proposed two different maps for the U.S. House, namely Senate Bill 756 and Senate Bill 757. Each includes a congressional district running along the southern border of North Carolina, which encompasses part of Mecklenburg County where Cotham resides. These districts currently have U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop as their representative, who has already declared his intention to run for state attorney general instead of seeking reelection in 2024. Bishop was even present at the press conference when Cotham revealed her party switch, which prompted strong condemnation from the chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Anderson Clayton, who referred to it as “a deceit of the highest order.”
In August, Mecklenburg County Democrats launched a campaign to regain control of Cotham’s District 112 seat. Cotham’s justification for switching parties in April was that she felt targeted by Democrats for not always toeing the party line. She claimed there were attempts to control her and faced attacks on social media. Since giving Republicans the majority they needed for legislative control, Cotham has consistently voted along party lines on major bills, such as Senate Bill 20, which imposed restrictions on abortion after the first trimester. She has also been a vocal advocate for school choice, which involves allocating taxpayer money for private school scholarships.
The News & Observer reached out to Cotham for a comment on her political future on Wednesday, but she has not responded at this time.
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