The race for the Governor’s Mansion was still undecided Wednesday as the vote tally was too close to make a definitive decision.
Towards the end of Election Night, Democrat challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper was up several thousand votes over incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, and while Cooper claimed victory, McCrory is waiting for the county canvasses on Nov. 18 before throwing in the towel.
“The votes have been cast in the gubernatorial election, but many have yet to be counted,” McCrory campaign strategist Chris LaCivita said. “Currently, there are tens of thousands of outstanding absentee, military and provisional ballots across the state, and claiming an outcome before the process has concluded is irresponsible and disrespectful to the voters of North Carolina whose voices have yet to be heard.
“We also have grave concerns over potential irregularities in Durham County, including the sudden emergence of over 90,000 ballots at the end of the night.
“Our campaign is working closely with the North Carolina Republican Party and Chairman Robin Hayes to fulfill Governor McCrory’s call to ensure every vote is counted and that every eligible voter is afforded one vote. We will devote all appropriate financial and human resources to this effort and will let the system work. In the meantime, Governor McCrory will continue to do the job he was elected to do and focus on storm recovery and response.”
The two candidates were separated by about 3,700 votes towards the end of the night, with Cooper claiming victory just before 1 a.m. Wednesday.
“We are confident that these results will be certified and that they will confirm victory,” Cooper said.
McCrory, however, is telling supporters it may be some time before the results are finalized, and the race was not over.
“We’re going to check everything,” McCrory said. “We’re going to make sure every vote counts in North Carolina.”
Many saw the election as a referendum on the state’s recent HB 2 law, which required people to use the gender-specific facility that is in accordance with their sex on their birth certificate, passed in response to a Charlotte ordinance forcing public and private entities to allow people to choose which gender-specific facility to use, based on their own sexual identity.
The measure has been held up as the central issue for voters in the gubernatorial race, especially by Cooper. Cooper hammered McCrory over high-profile opposition to HB 2 by corporate CEOs, gay rights groups and sports groups, including the NCAA, ACC and NBA.
McCrory spent much of his time leading up Election Day working to help the state recover from Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the eastern part of the state with flooding after the storm.
Late Tuesday McCrory appeared to be ahead, but as the night wore on Cooper began to take a small lead after Durham County began reporting its numbers, after closing its polls 90 minutes later than the rest of the state due to technical difficulties.
The Libertarian, Lon Cecil, gathered more than 100,000 votes.
The Republican Party kept clear control of the North Carolina General Assembly, losing one seat overall in the House of Representatives but gaining a seat in the Senate.
According to the latest figures from the State Board of Elections, Republicans will hold a 74-46 edge in the House, and 35-15 in the Senate. A three-fifths vote in each legislature chamber is needed to override a governor’s veto. In the House, this is 72 out of the 120 seats. In the Senate it is 30.
In other Council of State offices, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest had a clear victory over Linda Coleman, getting more than 51 percent of the vote to Coleman’s 45 percent. Libertarian Jacki Cole had close to 3 percent.
In initial returns in the attorney general election, Democrat Josh Stein by 50.23 percent to 49.77 percent.
State Auditor Beth Wood was leading former FBI agent Chuck Stuber by a little more than 3,000 votes in that contest.
In the insurance commissioner election, Republican Mike Causey was leading incumbent Wayne Goodwin. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry defeated Charles Meeker. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall fended off a challenge from Republican Michael LaPaglia.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Aktinson, a Democrat, was ousted by Mark Johnson, an attorney and member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.