RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory conceded Monday in the North Carolina governor's race and acknowledged Attorney General Roy Cooper as the state's 75th governor.
McCrory's defeat marks the first time a sitting North Carolina governor has lost a re-election bid.
“During this wonderful season, it’s also time to celebrate our democratic process and respect what I see to be the ultimate outcome of the closest North Carolina governor’s race in modern history," McCrory said in a YouTube video. "Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process, I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken."
He urged citizens to support Cooper and said his team will do everything possible to ease his transition.
The concession nearly four weeks after Election Day came after appeals dried up and post-election counts saw Cooper's narrow lead increasing. Cooper leads McCrory by about 10,250 votes from 4.7 million cast.
McCrory said he is giving up four years after he won the office by a comfortable margin. This time around McCrory was weighed down by HB2, a law he signed limiting LGBT rights, and was unable to generate the same voter support that lifted Republicans Donald Trump and Richard Burr to victory in the state.
Cooper released the following statement:
McCrory said he is proud that his team will leave North Carolina better than when he took office.
"Now, during my remaining weeks as governor, this team will be focusing on developing a financial plan to be approved in a special legislative session to help our citizens and communities impacted by Hurricane Mathew and by the current wildfires in the western region of our state,” McCrory said.
The change in state leadership is expected to have major changes on controversial issues in the Charlotte-area, including HB2 and the I-77 toll lane project.
McCrory's refusal to cancel the toll lane project mobilized many Lake Norman voters to support Cooper. Cooper has criticized the toll lane project and said he wouldn't have authorized it.
While he hasn't committed to canceling the construction, state senator Jeff Tarte said he will aggressively campaign for Cooper to take action.
"It should be one of the first actions the governor takes in office," Tarte said.
Political experts said the other issue that cost McCrory votes was HB2, the controversial law that eliminated Charlotte's non-discrimination ordinance and forced transgender people to use the bathroom of their biological sex at schools and in government buildings.
But with a Republican supermajority, it will be difficult for an immediate HB2 repeal.
Paid volunteers resumed their work Monday at the Durham County elections board office to carry out an order to recount more than 90,000 ballots cast during early voting and on Election Day. Partial Durham recount returns through Sunday showed little change in tallies for McCrory and Cooper.
The following politicians and organizations released statements about the announcement:
Republican Governors Association
“North Carolina is a stronger state thanks to Governor Pat McCrory’s steadfast leadership and fiscal discipline,” said RGA Chairman Governor Scott Walker. “With over 300,000 jobs created on his watch, 9-year low unemployment, a $450 million budget surplus and $4.4 billion in tax relief, North Carolina is thriving. While we hoped for a different outcome from this very close race, ensuring all of the legal votes that were cast were counted was the right thing to do. As soon as that was done, Governor McCrory respected the will of the voters. The RGA is exceptionally appreciative of Governor McCrory for his strong leadership and enormous accomplishments as governor.”
Progress NC Action
“After wasting plenty of time and taxpayer dollars with frivolous complaints and bogus accusations, we are thankful that the McCrory campaign has finally acknowledged Governor-elect Cooper’s victory,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action. "Now it’s time to move forward and for the General Assembly to start repairing North Carolina’s reputation by repealing HB2, raising teacher pay to the national average, and looking out for people instead of polluters. North Carolina voters supported these priorities when they elected Roy Cooper, and it’s time to move North Carolina forward instead of backwards.”
North Carolina Values Coalition Statement
"North Carolina Values Coalition thanks Governor Pat McCrory for his commitment to the people of North Carolina. His leadership over the last four years will not be forgotten. Not only has Governor McCrory created a booming economy in North Carolina where businesses and families thrive, but he has stood strong to protect the privacy, dignity, and safety of our citizens. Governor McCrory’s defeat was orchestrated by radical forces outside North Carolina that poured millions of dollars into the state to “eviscerate” our state’s leaders and fundamentally change our state’s values. It was an organized and well-funded strategy, laid out in Blueprint NC, and supported by left-wing, out-of-state donors like George Soros, Planned Parenthood, and the Human Rights Campaign. They outspent the Governor two to one. North Carolina Values Coalition will continue to work with the leaders in the House & Senate to assure grown men are never allowed access into women's bathrooms, locker rooms or changing facilities and that businesses are free to live and work according to their deeply held religious beliefs. We want to put Governor-elect Cooper on notice that the citizens of North Carolina will not stand for any attempt by out-of-state interests to fundamentally change our values or compromise the privacy and safety of our children," Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald said.
“I congratulate Governor-elect Cooper, and look forward to working with him on a wide range of issues critically important to North Carolina, starting with the ongoing Hurricane Matthew recovery effort. I’ve informed Governor-elect Cooper that my staff and I stand ready to assist him in any way during the transition period and serve as a constant resource on federal matters for him and his team. I also want to thank my good friend Pat McCrory for his dedicated service to our state. Four years ago, his leadership helped ignite North Carolina’s struggling economy, which is now the fastest growing in the entire nation. Our state’s elected officials would be wise to build on this momentum and ensure that North Carolina remains the best state to get a quality education, raise a family, run a business, and retire.”
NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes
"Today we honor the historic public policy accomplishments of Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina's 74th governor.
Many elected officials tried to reform North Carolina's tax system before Governor McCrory, but none of them were nearly as successful. His tax reform plan provided tax relief to every class of taxpayers, and freed North Carolina from the highest tax rates in the Southeast.
His record on job creation is unmatched, as North Carolina's jobless rate moved from one of the worst in the nation to among the best. The governor's leadership on infrastructure and energy will pay dividends for years to come as our citizens drive to work, heat their homes, educate their children and enjoy our state's beauty from Manteo to Murphy.
Demanding accountability in public education while providing the largest teacher pay raise in the nation, as well as providing unprecedented school choice, are all critical measures in reforming and improving our education system.
Politically, Governor McCrory has been a true friend of the Republican Party and its candidates. His support of President-Elect Donald Trump and our down ballot candidates was critical to their victories.
We respect Governor McCrory's decision to begin the transition process today, and we congratulate Governor-Elect Cooper. We wish him nothing but success. While we differ on public policy, we all share the same goal of making North Carolina the best she can be.
While the Governor's race now appears settled, we are prepared to represent Chuck Stuber in a statewide recount for auditor. We also are dedicated to seeing long-term improvement to our election process."
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