Republicans have veto-proof majority in NC house after Democrat switches parties

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News April 5, 2023

A Democrat who only five months ago won a North Carolina state House seat in the deep-blue Charlotte area has switched to the Republican Party, giving the GOP a veto-proof majority. Republicans already had a veto-proof majority in the state Senate.

North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham

The move by state Rep. Tricia Cotham gives Republicans more power to override Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes and push their agenda through the legislative process, which includes new restrictions on abortion.

Democrats in the North Carolina legislature had sustained 47 consecutive vetoes from Cooper, dating back to 2019. But, last week, Republicans were able to override a veto by Cooper to change state law on pistol permits when three House Democrats, including Cotham, were not present for the vote.

Local reports noted that, prior to a House session on Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers and legislative staffers cleaned out Cotham’s desk and moved her seat from the Democrat side of the chamber to the Republican side.

Cotham then walked in with an entourage of Republicans including Rep. John Bell, the House Majority Leader.

“It’s an exciting thing,” said Rep. John Torbett, a Republican who co-chairs the House Education Committee alongside Cotham. “I think it was a personal decision on her. She’s a fine woman. Been here before, obviously knows the ropes. And you’ll have to ask her as to the necessity of a change. But I’ve talked to so many others before that have made that change. And they said, in essence, ‘You know, I didn’t leave the party. The party left me.’ ”

Cotham’s move further reduces Cooper’s power to shape state law during his final year-plus in office.

Cooper called Cotham’s decision “disappointing,” adding: “Rep. Cotham’s votes on women’s reproductive freedom, election laws, LGBTQ rights and strong public schools will determine the direction of the state we love. It’s hard to believe she would abandon these long held principles and she should still vote the way she has always said she would vote when these issues arise, regardless of party affiliation.”

Cooper has spent the past four years able to veto GOP-backed bills after Republicans lost their veto-proof majority in the 2018 election. But the 2022 midterms went in the GOP’s favor, giving Republicans a supermajority in the Senate and leaving them just one seat short in the House.

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