House Republicans celebrated when a Meredith Democrat changed his party registration and joined the GOP ranks before Thursday’s session.
“After extensive reflection and deliberation, I’ve made the decision to change my party affiliation from Democrat to Republican to better align my party with my core values,” Matt Coker, a first-term Meredith representative, wrote on X/Twitter.
“As I reflect on the first half of my term, it is abundantly clear to me my proper place in this body is on the center-right side of the aisle.”
Coker’s move adds to the sense of momentum for House Republicans, who won two special elections in Coos County last month. As recently as Christmas, many in the GOP caucus feared they might lose their majority before this November’s elections.
House Majority Leader Jason Osborne celebrated the switch. “Rep. Coker’s decision to join our ranks speaks volumes about his dedication to serving the people of New Hampshire with integrity and conviction,” Osborne wrote in a release.
“His expertise, passion, and dedication to public service will undoubtedly strengthen our caucus and our ability to deliver results for the people of New Hampshire.”
NHGOP Chairman Chris Ager also welcomed Coker to the party, writing on X/Twitter, “We are the big tent party and welcome diverse views that can help make NH an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
The newly minted Republican couldn’t have switched at a better time as his party attempted to pass multiple bills to expand education freedom accounts. Coker cast the deciding vote on the only expansion effort that passed, raising the income limit to 500 percent of the federal poverty limit. The bill was approved 190-189 Thursday afternoon.
Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm, Manchester, was quick to dismiss the switch. “Rep. Coker has made clear that his values and priorities don’t align with the Democratic Party,” he said in a statement.
“Our caucus will continue to fight for working families and for the rights, freedoms, and dignity of all Granite Staters.”
Osborne’s GOP now has 201 seats in the 400-member House, with 194 Democrats, three ‘independents,’ and two vacancies to be filled with special elections on March 12.
Those special elections, the last of the cycle, are expected to be easy wins for the Democrats.