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NH Politics

Democratic representative defects to Republican party, widening Republican lead in N.H. House

New Hampshire’s House of Representatives has been closely divided. Ahead of Thursday’s House session, Representative Matthew Coker of Meredith announced he had joined the Republican party

CONCORD, N.H. – Representative Matthew Coker of Meredith announced he was switching his affiliation from Democrat to Republican ahead of the House session on Thursday.

“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,” Coker said in a statement on social media Thursday morning.

“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. I’m excited to join my new caucus and continue working to deliver for my community,” he continued.

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House Republicans welcomed Coker, an addition that bolsters their numbers in a narrowly divided House. That divide has grown a little bit wider recently, with two new House Republican members were recently sworn in following special elections for vacant seats. With the addition of Coker, there are 201 Republicans, 194 Democrats, 3 independents, and 2 vacancies, according to the House Clerk.

“Today, I am thrilled to welcome State Representative Matt Coker to the Republican Caucus,” said Jason Osborne. “Representative Coker’s decision to join our ranks speaks volumes about his dedication to serving the people of New Hampshire with integrity and conviction.”

Coker is currently serving his first term. He ran on a platform that included maintaining low taxes, keeping the cost of living affordable for working families, and not allowing further restrictions on reproductive health care.

Coker previously told the Globe he regularly votes against party lines, but when he voted for House Bill 396, to allow sex-based separation in certain facilities statewide, and House Bill 619, a bill that would ban gender-affirming genital surgeries for minors, the criticism was especially sharp.

“The vitriol I’ve experienced over these votes is at a different level than what I’ve experienced before,” he said, “and I regularly vote against party lines.”

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Coker also voted with Republicans against getting driver licenses to asylum seekers more quickly.

“Rep. Coker has made clear that his values and priorities don’t align with the Democratic Party,” said House Democratic Leader Matt Wilhelm in a statement. “Our caucus will continue to fight for working families and for the rights, freedoms, and dignity of all Granite Staters.”

He did not immediately respond to a request for comment about changing his party affiliation.

This story has been updated to correct Coker’s voting history.


Amanda Gokee can be reached at amanda.gokee@globe.com. Follow her @amanda_gokee.