As soon as state Rep. Tricia Cotham switched from the Democratic to Republican party in April, giving Republicans a supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly, speculation began about her future political career.
Democratic voters were the ones in Mecklenburg County who elected her in 2022.
If she runs for office in 2024, under the new redistricting maps released by the General Assembly on Wednesday, she would have options. There are proposed districts at both the state and federal level that include her area and have no incumbent.
Republicans drew the maps in secret, and with their supermajority in both chambers can easily pass legislation. Redistricting bills are not subject to a signature or veto from the governor under state law. The maps have a committee hearing this week, with votes expected next week.
Different state House district, or two congressional districts
Cotham was elected as a Democrat in House District 112, but under the new state House maps, she would be in District 105, which was drawn to give an edge to Republicans.
The new District 105 leans Republican by a margin of 52.53% to 45.03% for Democrats, according to the website Dave’s Redistricting, which analyzes data from previous elections.
But what if Cotham wants to seek higher office?
While state law requires candidates to live in their districts in General Assembly races, that is not required for Congress.
Senate Republicans proposed two different ways of drawing a map for U.S. House, in the form of Senate Bill 756 and Senate Bill 757.
Each one has a congressional district that runs along the southern border of North Carolina and includes part of Mecklenburg County, where Cotham lives.
Both of those districts along the southern border include areas that are currently represented by U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, who has already declared a run for state attorney general instead of seeking reelection to his congressional seat in 2024. Bishop attended the press conference this past spring when Cotham announced her party switch.
The chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Anderson Clayton, at the time called Cotham’s party switch “a deceit of the highest order.”
In August, Mecklenburg County Democrats launched a campaign to take back Cotham’s District 112 seat.
Cotham said in April that she switched parties because Democrats targeted her for not always toeing the party line, saying there were attempts to control her as well as attacks against her on social media.
Since giving the Republicans the one more vote they needed for total control of the legislature, Cotham has voted along party lines on major legislation like Senate Bill 20, which restricted abortion after the first trimester.
She has made a major push for school choice, which allocates taxpayer money for private school scholarships.
The News & Observer reached out to Cotham for comment about her political future on Wednesday, but she has not responded.
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