North Carolina Democrats Switch Party, Giving Republicans Veto-Proof Supermajority in State Senate

(CNN) North Carolina Republicans A Charlotte-area Democrat won a veto-proof supermajority in the state House on Wednesday after he announced he was switching parties.

State Rep. Tricia Gotham, who won her blue district by nearly 20 points last fall as a Democrat, told a news conference in Raleigh that “the modern Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me.”

“I’m no longer a Democrat, but I’m still a public servant, and that’s what I’m called to do. The Republican Party is the party that represents me and my principles and what’s best for North Carolina,” Gotham, dressed in red, said. Dressed and surrounded by his new Republican colleagues, said outside state GOP headquarters in Raleigh.

“I am a single mom of two wonderful sons, a teacher, a small-business owner, a woman of strong faith, a national championship basketball coach and a public servant. Today I add the Republican Party to that list,” she said. that she was “welcomed with open arms” by her new colleagues.

Gotham’s switch could have major legislative implications in the Tar Heel state. Republicans already hold a majority in the North Carolina Senate. Gotham’s flip gives them 72 seats in the state House — enough votes in both chambers to override any veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

Gotham’s plan is to switch parties First reported by Axios. CNN reached out to Gotham about the party switch.

Gotham served as a Democrat for nearly a decade before stepping down in 2016. He ran again in 2022, winning a crowded Democratic general election for newly drawn House District 112 in southeastern Mecklenburg County.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Gotham said, “The turning point for me was when I was criticized for using the American flag and praying hands emoji on all my social media platforms and even on the back of different vehicles that I have.”

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“I couldn’t believe the conversations that happened at the time, I was so offended,” he said, “that it was wrong and that other people couldn’t show the flag. Pass it on for anything else, why are we in this place in politics?”

North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement Wednesday that Gotham’s announcement “continues to reflect that the Democratic Party is very serious about North Carolina.”

“The values โ€‹โ€‹of the Republican Party align with voters, and the people of Mecklenburg County should be proud to have her represented in Raleigh,” he said.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also welcomed Gotham to the GOP, saying in a statement Wednesday, “Even in Biden’s district in a purple state, Democrats are reading the writing on the wall: liberal policies are too radical and they’re failing Americans . . .”

‘Political Earthquake’

Democrats reacted to Gotham’s decision with anger and disappointment.

“Representative on women’s reproductive freedom, voting laws, LGBTQ rights and strong public schools. Gotham’s votes will determine the direction of the state we want to take. It’s hard to believe he will abandon these longstanding principles, and he should vote like he always has. I will vote when these issues arise, regardless of party,” Cooper said. said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday.

The White House also weighed in on Gotham’s switch.

“American liberties are at stake in the North Carolina Legislature’s vote,” spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “We sincerely hope that all members of the state House and State Senate will listen to their conscience — instead of politics — and put the rights of North Carolinians and the safety of their communities first.”

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Anderson Clayton, the newly elected chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, called on Goth to resign his seat.

“Rep. Gotham’s decision to switch parties is a betrayal of the highest order. It is a betrayal of the people of Mecklenburg County that will have consequences not only for the people of his district, but for the entire state of North Carolina,” Clayton said. with other Democrats and Gotham County residents at a news conference Wednesday outside party headquarters in Raleigh. “Reproductive freedoms are on the line. Our public schools are on the line. LGBTQ rights are on the line. Voting rights are on the line. Our future as a state is on the line.”

“This is not about political vendettas. This is about constituents who trusted Rep. Gotham to champion their values, and now they have little assurance that he will,” Clayton added. “HD112 is a 60% Democratic district. And they didn’t elect a Republican. They chose to elect a Democrat.”

Cameron Pruette, chairman of the LGBTQ+ Democratic Party of Mecklenburg County, said at the news conference, “I knew there was a problem, when I invited Tricia Gotham to a human rights campaign party a few weeks ago, she didn’t show up. Was this a planned move? How long did she know? Voters deserve to know.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson, a former state senator who represents parts of Mecklenburg County, he tweeted on Wednesday Gotham’s decision represents a “political earthquake” that will have “major consequences for millions of people.”

“While we don’t know how he’ll vote on any bill, dozens of bills that were essentially dead — from election law changes to reproductive freedom to LGBTQ rights to education policy — could now be resurrected,” he said. said. “And the state budget โ€” which controls education funding โ€” can now be passed entirely on the basis of Republican votes.”

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“There is no recall provision in North Carolina. He will be able to serve out his full two-year term, which began in January. For that period, Republicans will now be in full control,” Jackson said.

Gotham’s campaign website, which listed him as a Democrat as of Wednesday afternoon, prioritized protecting voting rights, affordable housing, health care and equitable public schools among other issues. Under the headline “Equality for All,” Gotham called himself a “champion of LGBTQ+ rights,” saying, “Right now, LGBTQ+ youth are under attack from Republican state legislatures across the country. I will stand strong against discriminatory legislation. Pass additional protections at the state level.” ”

Gotham contested last year’s election Courtesy of Emily’s ListIt supports women’s democracy advocates who support abortion rights.

Last week, North Carolina Republicans Overrode Cooper’s veto Legislation should be enacted to relax permit requirements for the purchase of pistols. Three Democrats, including Gotham, were absent from the state House, allowing Republicans to prevail.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Kaanita Iyer, Alta Spells and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.

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