A North Carolina Democrat switched parties after being subjected to bullying from her colleagues over her thoughts on certain political issues.
State Representative Tricia Cotham said she now finds the Democrat party unrecognizable.
“The party wants to villainize anyone who has free thought, free judgment,” she said at a press briefing, where she was joined by state Republicans.
Her move across the aisle gives Republicans a supermajority in both legislative chambers of the state, meaning they can more easily override Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s vetoes.
Cooper called Cotham’s decision to switch parties disappointing.
In a statement, he said her vote on a long list of culture war issues “will determine the direction of the state we love”.
“It’s hard to believe she would abandon these long-held principles,” he said. “She should still vote the way she has always said she would vote when these issues arise, regardless of party affiliation.”
For her part, Cotham only said she would continue to do what she believes is right.
Democrats in the state called for her to resign, saying she duped voters who recently elected her as a Democrat.
House Democratic leader Robert Reives pointed out that she campaigned as a Democrat in a 60% Democratic district.
“I hope that this does not change the platform that Rep. Cotham ran on and how voters in her district expect to be represented,” Reives said in a statement. “Governor Cooper’s veto has prevented a lot of policies that would have taken our state backwards over the past few years, and I worry that losing another check on the Legislature will lead to bad public policy that leaves North Carolinians worse off.”
He also cast doubt on her allegations of bullying.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said even with the new supermajority, he would strive for bipartisan support on legislation where possible.