The Democratic establishment may be resolved to maintain its leftward course, but not all members are willing to sacrifice conscience for party and wayfare onward uncritically.
Louisiana state Rep. Jeremy LaCombe is the latest to jump ship, becoming the second Democrat in the state legislature to do so this year.
LaCombe's departure from the Democratic Party coincided with a potentially more impactful defection in North Carolina, where state Rep. Tricia Cotham formalized her party registration from Democrat to Republican, providing GOP legislators with veto-proof control over Gov. Roy Cooper (D).
It's not me, it's you
The Democratic lawmaker indicated Monday that he would be switching his party affiliation to Republican, reported the Advocate.
The GOP already enjoys a supermajority in the house, such that it can override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' prospective vetoes and pass tax measures.
The switch comes just before the Republican-dominated legislature convenes in Baton Rouge for its regular legislative session, during which it is expected to tackle culture war issues and designate what to spend additional tax dollars on.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Sam Jenkins appeared to take this second abandonment in as many months in stride, saying, "We look forward to working with Rep. LaCombe during this legislative session to increase wages, lower costs, improve our schools and pass insurance reform that benefit Louisiana families and small businesses."
TheBlaze reported last month that after serving 48 years as a Democrat, Louisiana state Rep. Francis Thompson switched parties to Republican, citing the need to stay true to his Christian faith.
"The push the past several years by Democratic leadership on both the national and state level to support certain issues does not align with those values and principles that are a part of my Christian life," Thompson said.
While LaCombe has not similarly indicated what prompted his move, his voting record indicates some socially conservative sensibilities.
In 2022, he voted in support of both the "Fairness in Women's Sports" bill (SB 44), prohibiting male students from participating on women's teams, and SB 388, which bans the sale or use of mail-order chemical abortion drugs.
Owing to his lack of support for other conservative initiatives, the Louisiana Family Forum nevertheless rated LaCombe "unfavorable" in its family advocacy rankings.
Veto-proofing North Carolina
North Carolina state Rep. Tricia Cotham's party switch has already proved advantageous, ensuring Republicans will be able to pass legislation protecting children from confusion-affirming genital mutilations and medical interventions, restricting high school athletes to play on sports teams consistent with their biological sex, and protecting medical practitioners from participating in services that violate their consciences.
Cotham joined the Republican Party on April 5, noting the Democratic Party "has become unrecognizable" and wants to "villainize anyone who has free thoughts."
"Tricia Cotham has been someone who is reasonable, who is moderate and we've been able to work with in this session," said House Rules chairman Destin Hall (R). "Her principles and her views have not changed. What has changed is the Democratic Party in North Carolina."
Cotham, whose term ends on Jan. 1, 2025, formalized the switch this week, providing Republicans with a veto-proof supermajority, reported the Associated Press. Republicans now control 72 out of a total 120 seats in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
Like LaCombe, Cotham's voting record has been checkered when it comes to matters of concern to social conservatives.
Axios reported that Cotham testified on the House floor about her experience having an abortion and suggested that a proposed extended wait period would create harmful barriers to abortion access. She also joined Democrats in sponsoring legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade.
Ballotpedia tallied the number of state legislators who at some point in their careers switched party affiliation. Since 1994, there were reportedly 169 state legislators who crossed the aisle, including 48 state senators and 121 state representatives.
Whereas only 23 Republican state lawmakers have defected to the Democratic Party, 80 Democrats have gone onto become Republicans. The remainder went onto become independents, Greens, or Libertarians.
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