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Local judge says he didn’t leave the Republican Party - the party left him

District Court Judge Lou Trosch, a longtime Republican, has switched parties. He blames a GOP legislative “assault” on the impartiality of the courts for his decision.
District Court Judge Lou Trosch, a longtime Republican, has switched parties. He blames a GOP legislative “assault” on the impartiality of the courts for his decision. Michael Gordon/Charlotte Observer

A longtime Mecklenburg County Republican judge has switched parties, saying the GOP’s ongoing legislative “assault” on a nonpartisan judiciary has given him the opportunity “to do what I think is right.”

District Judge Lou Trosch became a Democrat at noon on Monday. He says he was joined by his mother, Minette Trosch, a former longtime Republican member of the Charlotte City Council and a one-time mayor pro tem.

Trosch, a judge since 1999, said he has been contemplating the change for several years. He told the Observer that his decision was “a matter of conscience.”

“Over the last several years my former party has drifted further and further away from my core beliefs,” Trosch said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Simply put there is no longer room in the GOP tent for folks like me. Meanwhile the Democratic Party better reflects my values and ideals.”

Chris Turner, chairman of the Mecklenburg Republican Party, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Trosch singled out repeated efforts by the Republican leadership of the General Assembly to inject partisanship into the courts. The recent moves include requiring all judicial candidates to run under party banners. The legislature has also cut the size of the state’s Court of Appeals to block Gov. Roy Cooper from filling vacancies to changing how appeals court candidates appeared on the ballot in an apparent effort to help elect the son of Senate President Phil Berger.

On Sunday, Trosch said he and other judges were notified by the state courts system of a GOP legislative move, since tabled, to redraw the districts of all trial judges and district attorneys. Trosch, who was re-elected in 2016 without opposition, says his proposed new district would loop through the Charlotte suburbs, making it appear to be a safer seat for a Republican incumbent.

Trosch’s proposed new district would be Republican-leaning, so he felt he could announce the switch without the move appearing politically motivated. Under current Mecklenburg voting lines, Democrats dominate the bench and hold majorities on most elected bodies.

“By (2020), I will have been a judge for more than 20 years. At this point, I’m in a place, personally and professionally where the chips are going to fall where they may, but I’m going to do what’s right,” Trosch told the Observer.

“The Republican Party is essentially assaulting my calling in life. Come on, my party is attacking what I do, in a variety of ways.”

He said he doesn’t know where his decision might lead and how it will affect him politically, “but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night.”

“I don’t know if I’ll lose my next election or not,” Trosch said. “But if I do, then I can live with myself.”

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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