North Carolina Democrat's defection to the GOP could doom abortion rights in her state: report
North Carolina State Rep. Tricia Cotham sounded a lot like former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii when, on April 5, she explained her reasons for leaving the Democratic Party.
The lawmaker declared, "The modern Democratic Party has become unrecognizable to me and to so many others throughout this state and this country. If you don't do exactly what Democrats want you to do, they will bully you. They will try to cast you aside."
But unlike Gabbard and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), another ex-Democrat, Cotham has not become an independent. Cotham has officially joined the Republican Party — a move that, according to Rolling Stone reporter Tessa Stuart, may endanger abortion rights in North Carolina.
"North Carolina is one of the few remaining states in the region where abortion remains legal and accessible, but Republican lawmakers would like to change that," Stuart explains in an article published by Rolling Stone on April 6. "One week ago, GOP members in the NC House introduced a bill that would ban abortion in every instance except to save a pregnant person's life."
According to Stuart, Cotham was "coy" and vague when asked whether or not she would vote with North Carolina Republicans on that bill.
Cotham, elected to the North Carolina House as a Democrat, has been a defender of abortion rights. But her critics fear that she will flip-flop on that issue. Cotham, Stuart notes, "campaigned as a pro-choice candidate."
Stuart reports, "Her decision will have seismic consequences in the state where, until Wednesday, Republicans were a single seat short of a veto-proof majority in the House — The GOP has held a supermajority in the Senate since November — and where Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has often deployed his veto power to block Republican legislation."
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its unpopular 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the battle over abortion rights intensified at the state level. Abortion proved to be a strong issue for the Democratic Party in the 2022 midterms, which found pro-choice Democrats winning gubernatorial races in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and other key swing states.
Wisconsin voters revisited the abortion issue this year. On Tuesday, April 4, liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz enjoyed an 11-percent victory over far-right MAGA Republican Dan Kelly in Wisconsin's contentious Supreme Court race. Protasiewicz forcefully campaigned on abortion rights and won by double digits.
Abortion debates have been no less intense in North Carolina, where Cooper has vowed to do everything he can to protect reproductive rights. A swing state, North Carolina isn't as Democrat-friendly as Virginia to the north but isn't deep red like South Carolina either.
Read Rolling Stone's full report at this link (subscription required).
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