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A North Carolina state lawmaker who left the Democratic Party to become a Republican has launched a re-election bid.
State Rep. Tricia Cotham’s party affiliation switch blindsided Democrats and handed Republicans veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers, The Associated Press reported.
“Cotham’s announcement ends speculation over her political future after Republicans last month redrew maps for the state’s congressional and legislative districts that seemed to reward her with options if she chose to run for office in 2024,” the AP added. “The redrawn state House map places Cotham’s Mint Hill residence in a new district where Republicans appear to have a slight advantage, according to statewide election data. Had her district gone unchanged, she would have faced an extremely tough path for reelection.”
She could have also chosen to run for the U.S. Congress in a district without an incumbent along the state’s southern border.
“After our prayers and talks, I’ve decided that I will seek re-election to keep representing Mecklenburg County, and I look forward to meeting the voters of HD-105,” Cotham wrote on the X platform on Saturday.
Cotham secured her current state House seat in a Democratic district near Charlotte in 2022. However, she has faced severe criticism from constituents who feel betrayed after she changed her affiliation to Republican in April. This switch provided Republicans with the final seat required to establish supermajorities, enabling them to consistently override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes.
In September, Louisiana State Rep. Jeremy LaCombe announced he left the Democratic Party and would be registering as a Republican. Although the reason for LaCombe’s switch was not immediately clear, he is now the second Louisiana Democrat in less than a month to do so and the third in the country after Cotham.
Because another Democrat, Rep. Francis Thompson of Delhi, switched to the GOP, Republicans recently gained a supermajority in the Louisiana State House, a necessary threshold for overriding vetoes and passing tax measures.
LaCombe defeated Republicans with 68% of the vote in a special election and 62% of the vote in a general election to win his House seat in 2019.
My opponents are spreading lies about my record. The truth is, I would do anything to protect my daughter.
— Rep. Jeremy LaCombe (@LaCombe4LA) September 15, 2023
The party switches came as President Joe Biden faces a near-record low approval rating among key groups.
A RealClearPolitics (RCP) average at the time showed former President Donald Trump surpassed Biden in polls for a potential 2024 rematch, The Daily Wire noted.
An RCP average showed that Trump had a 0.6 percentage point lead over Biden, with four of the seven polls conducted this month leaning in his favor.
Since the aggregator started keeping track in November 2022, when Trump announced his candidacy, the two have switched positions numerous times, with leads reaching as high as 2.5-2.8 percentage points. Trump’s lead in the RCP polling average last occurred in July.
Trump has 56.6 percent of the vote and is the current front-runner for the GOP nomination. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, has maintained his position in second place the entire time, but RCP’s tracker shows a decline in his average from a peak of 31.3% in January.
In Democratic Party primary polls, Biden commands a much smaller field. He typically received 40% to 60% of the vote, compared to Robert Kennedy Jr.’s support, which ranged from single digits to numbers in the teens.
Voters have expressed strong concerns about Biden in recent polls regarding his age (80) and ability to lead effectively. Trump, who is 77, also raises age concerns among respondents, though not to the same extent.
Trump is currently involved in four criminal cases in addition to civil lawsuits. His legal defense is consuming both financial resources and media attention.
Trump, however, has denied all wrongdoing, entered a not-guilty plea to the charges he is facing, and asserted that prosecutors are engaging in a “witch hunt” against him because of their political motivations.