GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-High Point), one of the three Democrats in the North Carolina House to be absent when a vote on overriding a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper was called last month, is saying he’s not going to follow one of the others out of the party.

You may recall that Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County, another of the three, was so perturbed by criticism of her absence for the vote on March 29 because of a treatment for “long COVID” that she decided to exit the Democratic Party altogether, despite having won her District 112 race last fall by more than 18 percentage points while running as a Democrat.

Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-High Point) (NCGA)

Cotham cited a party that “has become unrecognizable to me” and a wish to escape pressure to vote with her caucus. “I will not be controlled by anyone,” she said.

Her move meant that the GOP now has a supermajority in the House (as it does in the Senate) and removes the last barrier to the GOP’s controlling every vote on every issue, from abortion rights to redistricting to social issues.

The veto vote was based on Cooper’s objection to a repeal of pistol permits that county sheriffs issued, which included background checks on transfers of weapons not covered by federal background checks. It was controversial and passed by a mostly party-line vote, with the third AWOL Democrat Rep. Michael Wray (D-Halifax) voting for the bill, Brockman voting against the bill and Cotham not voting at all (although she said she opposed the repeal).

Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Mecklenburg) (NCGA)

Brockman had said he was at a medical clinic that morning of the veto vote and couldn’t make it to the legislative building. Wray has not addressed his absence.

Brockman, though, at least is saying he doesn’t plan a party switch of his own, even though he had been named as likely to change parties in some social media posts.

“I have been a lifelong Democrat, and I want to see Democrats win,” Brockman said in a statement released to The News & Observer. “I think Donald Trump has made it acceptable for us to be vile and nasty. We used to be a party that said when they go low, we go high. Now, when they go low, we go even lower.

“I think we are losing people when they read how we treat members of our own party. We need to get moderates to win the state, not just the people who agree with us. I want Democrats to win, and I plan on helping them do so.”

The N&O reported that House Speaker Tim Moore, for a few weeks, had been talking to Cotham about switching parties. She called attacks on her votes “vicious.” Moore said he had talked to other Democrats too.

 “I think she just wanted to do what’s best for her district, and when you’re constantly talked about and trashed — especially the way that we have been over the past few weeks — I think this is what happens,” Brockman told The News & Observer. “I hope the [Democratic] party takes a strong look at how they react to people making the decisions that they make.”

Changes in appointments

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham, right) (AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson)

With the power of the legislature now clearly delineated, the state Senate has pushed through a bill that takes more control of appointments from the governor, a long-running effort in the two terms served by Cooper.

Senate Bill 512, passed last week, 29-18, would broaden the appointment authority between the executive branch – including members of the Council of State – and the General Assembly. A release by Republicans said that it would “bring much-needed balance to unelected boards and commissions.”

The governor would continue to have appointment authority on the boards and commissions to which the office already appoints members, but the General Assembly doesn’t like that most of these boards and commissions are appointed exclusively by the governor.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham): “The General Assembly is the most representative body of our state, and it needs to have a seat at the table when it comes to our boards and commissions.”

The governor makes appointments to more than 350 boards and commissions, and a release from Berger’s office said that more than 600 appointments expire each year. The changes would be:

  • Utilities Commission: Moves under the Department of Treasury and reduces the membership by two and sets two appointees from the General Assembly, two from the governor and one from the state treasurer. The governor will continue to appoint the chair.
  • Economic Investment Committee: Adds two members and specifies the commission as the secretaries of Commerce and  Revenue, state budget director and two appointees from the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tempore or their designees.
  • Environmental Management Commission: The governor would appoint seven members, the General Assembly would appoint six, and the Agriculture commissioner would appoint two.
  • Commission for Public Health: The governor would appoint five members, the General Assembly four and the N.C. Medical Society would elect four.
  • Board of Transportation: The General Assembly would appoint 14 members representing the 14 highway divisions, the governor would appoint six at-large members, and the secretary of Transportation would serve as a non-voting member.
  • Coastal Resources Commission: The General Assembly would appoint six members, the governor six and the Insurance commissioner one.
  • Wildlife Resources Commission: Adds two new members. The governor and the General Assembly each would appoint 10 members, and the Agriculture commissioner would appoint one.
  • N.C. Railroad Board of Directors: The governor and the General Assembly each would appoint six members, and the State Treasurer would appoint one.
  •  UNC Health Care Board of Directors: The board would be comprised of the UNC system president or designee, the CEO of UNC Health Care, the UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor, the president of UNC Hospitals, 12 members appointed by the Board of Governors and eight members appointed by the General Assembly.

Three boards – the Environmental Management Commission, the Board of Transportation, and the Coastal Resources Commission – would elect their board chairs instead of having the governor appoint them.

GOP on Biden’s visit

North Carolina Republican Party Chair Michael Watley in 2020. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Michael Watley, the chair of the NC Republican Party, held a media conference call in advance of President Joe Biden’s visit to North Carolina on March 29. Whatley delivered remarks that expanded slightly on an email that had been distributed.

“It’s important to talk about how terribly out of touch he [Biden] is, “Whatley said. “His economic policies are hurting the North Carolina economy.”

Whatley highlighted the sort of political talking points the GOP usually mentions about Biden: record high inflation that has led to a decline in “real wages for 23 months,” “massive spending and soaring interest rates” and those multiple bank failures.


Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines)
Rep. Amos Quick (D-Greensboro) (NCGA)
  • U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis files a lot of bills, comments on a lot of events and sends out a lot of press releases in recent weeks. One from last week was to decry the White House report on the Afghanistan withdrawal, which he called “botched.” The White House blamed the Trump administration for the “conditions created” that caused the chaotic exodus in which 13 Americans were killed by a bomb. Tillis called the report blame-shifting” and an “attempted rewrite of history. … The buck stops with President Biden and President Biden alone.”
  • Rep. Amos Quick (D-Greensboro), who sometimes leads prayer in the state House, recently was installed as pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Lexington. Several members of the House traveled to see him ordained.
  • The Center for Effective Lawmaking named 9th District Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines) as “the most effective member from North Carolina’s House Delegation.” The report, which said Hudson passed 27 bills as sponsor or cosponsor, 18 of which became law, said Hudson ranked among top 10% of all Republicans in the House and was recognized as the top Republican lawmaker on health policy, a release from Hudson’s office said. “It is an honor to again be named the most effective legislator from our state,” Hudson said in the release. “I look forward to working with our House Republican majority, our state delegation, and across the aisle to continue solving problems this Congress.”