Cotham Cashes Out on Constituents
Yesterday, progressive groups across the state cried foul on the decision of Representative Tricia Cotham to switch parties a week after public ridicule for neglecting to support the Governor’s veto by not showing up for the critical repeal of the pistol purchase permit SB 41. On its face, this would seem like a knee-jerk reaction by Cotham to a very contentious issue. However, many political insiders were not surprised by her decision to switch parties as she has publicly courted the GOP for some time.
It is nothing new in the North Carolina General Assembly to see Democrats switch sides on votes for bills after being placated by pitiful promises from Republican leadership, so seeing this potential public party switch is more palatable than the half-a-dozen Democrats, still undermining their constituents by hiding behind party lines trading bad policy for political peanuts. It is interesting to note that during the entirety of the SB 41 Pistol Purchase Permit debate, Black House Representatives in Eastern North Carolina were targeted with intense scrutiny while Cotham was allowed to court the GOP freely until it was made public that she would not vote on SB 41.
Cotham serves in House District 112 in Mecklenburg County, which has been one of the most rapidly growing legislative districts over the past decade. Interestingly enough, the district, which borders Union, Stanly, and Cabarrus Counties, is comprised of 37% African American voters. For a representative that has served five terms in the House, that growth means increased accountability to Black and Brown voters at a time when racial tensions and political tensions go hand in hand.
Shift in GOP Voter Tactics
From the outside looking in, it is easy to miss this shift in demographics among the narrative of the past week; however, since 2008, the GOP has used race shaming of white voters and political leaders to their advantage resulting in voters being disenfranchised. This shaving of the margins tactic and the manipulation of voting districts through gerrymandering are the only ways that Republicans can govern and misrepresents the will of voters. When Representatives like Cotham switch sides, it is because they are confident that votes don’t equate to victories with a process that has been rigged to allow for such unaccountable actions.
Regardless of race and party, voters must recognize the tricks being played at their expense. The neglect they face while politicians swap seats for personal gain is becoming more intolerable as the issues impacting North Carolinians become too obvious to ignore.