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Nicole Sidman wins Democratic primary to take on Tricia Cotham

Democrat Nicole Sidman (left) and Republican Tricia Cotham.
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Democrat Nicole Sidman (left) and Republican Tricia Cotham.

Democrat Nicole Sidman will face Republican Tricia Cotham in the general election for House District 105 in November, as Democrats seek to gain back a seat they lost when Cotham flipped to the Republican Party last year.

Sidman won with 57% of the vote.

Sidman is a first-time candidate, though she ran Christy Clark’s successful 2018 state House race against Republican John Bradford. Originally from New York, she has been in Charlotte since 2017 and is the director of congregational life at Temple Beth El.

Sidman beat two fellow Democrats in the primary: Yolanda Holmes finished second to Cotham in a four-person field in the 2022 Democratic primary for Cotham’s current House seat; Terry Lansdell is a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission and executive director of BikeWalkNC.

On Tuesday, Holmes won 38% of the vote and Lansdell had almost 5%.

Cotham's defection was a political earthquake that shook North Carolina politics. A longtime Democratic representative — and the daughter of Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham — Cotham rose to prominence with a speech on the statehouse floor about her own abortion that drew national attention in 2015.

She ran for her seat, which was heavily Democratic and included east Charlotte before redistricting, as a Democrat and strong supporter of abortion rights. But she switched parties in April 2023, giving the Republican-led General Assembly a supermajority in both houses. That allowed Republicans to override Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes at will and pass laws they had long sought, such as a stricter abortion limit that lowered the cutoff in most cases to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Sidman says Cotham's flip helped energize voters in the primary.

"As soon as I mentioned that I was running against Trish Cotham in the fall - animation immediately and they said, 'You know, we've got to get this done because it's just not fair what she did,'" said Sidman.

The race to unseat Cotham is likely to be one of the costliest and most pitched in General Assembly history. Democrats were furious at her for Cotham's perceived betrayal, while Republicans hailed her move and celebrated her. And House District 105 as it's drawn now is a toss-up, meaning it will likely be one of the few competitive statehouse races in North Carolina. The district now includes Mint Hill, Matthews and south Charlotte.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.