Monday, July 31, 2023

Republicans Are Better at Seduction

At 5 a.m. Sunday morning, Kate Kelly and David Perlmutt posted a long piece in the NYTimes (in the Business section, of all places, which is why I didn't see it until Carolina Forward tweeted it out) -- about how the Republicans wooed and won the tragic defection of Tricia Cotham. It was Republican bigwigs Speaker Tim Moore and Majority Leader John Bell who reached out and encouraged her into her "comeback" campaign last year, without expecting -- they ludicrously claim -- that she would in fact change parties. Moore and Bell said they wanted Cotham back because she had been an excellent member of the House from 2007 to 2016, but we know the predator in Moore detected a weakness for flattery. He poured it on.

Meanwhile (back story), Cotham had been very publicly sick with COVID. In February 2022, Cotham put out a TikTok confession (“This is my third time battling COVID. Yes, the third time. And before you jump to conclusions, yes, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted,” she said. “I’m in a lot of pain. My lungs hurt. I’m mentally drained”). That went viral in her district, especially after WSOC reporter Joe Bruno interviewed her on camera.

So partly (largely?) because of that plague narrative, when it came time for the Dist. 112 Democratic candidate recruitment committee to begin approaching prospective candidates for what was sure to be a Democratic pickup in a newly drawn House district with a distinct Democratic majority, they did not automatically think of Tricia Cotham. Three other Democrats had filed for the 2022 primary when Cotham arrived on the last day of filing and put her name in too, which ought to have been and probably was a clear warning to Democrats that she was a gathering thunderstorm of raw feelings.

"She fumed that Lillian’s List, an abortion rights organization, had 'really screwed' her by endorsing another Democrat in the primary," and Jonathan Coby, her former campaign consultant, said she had already developed a bunker mentality, an "us-versus-them" defensiveness toward Democratic interest groups. A former advocacy director at the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition -- who had been a friend of Cotham's for years -- said Cotham “felt she did not get the gratitude or spotlight that she felt she deserved,” and added, “she was jealous that other Democrats were getting the adulation from the party.”

Ms. Cotham told Mr. Coby and her mother [Mecklenburg Co. commish Pat Cotham] that she was put off that Democrats treated her as a newcomer when she returned to the House, inviting her to freshman orientation and offering her a mentor. She declined both.

Instead, that charmer Tim Moore designated Cotham as a part of his "honor escort," "a small group of lawmakers who escorted Mr. Moore to the dais to be sworn in as speaker." Her seduction was pretty much a done deal.

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