McCrory con­cedes de­feat af­ter elec­tion chal­lenge fails

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory con­ceded de­feat Mon­day af­ter his post­elec­tion chal­lenge failed to pro­duce enough votes to over­take Demo­crat Roy Cooper’s lead, bring­ing to an end a con­tentious race billed as a ref­er­en­dum on trans­gen­der rights.

Mr. McCrory, who had filed re­quests for re­counts based on con­cerns over voter fraud in more than 50 coun­ties, said in a mes­sage on YouTube that his team would “as­sist in ev­ery way to help the new ad­min­is­tra­tion make a smooth tran­si­tion.”

“Dur­ing this won­der­ful sea­son, It’s also time to cel­e­brate our demo­cratic process and re­spect what I see to be the ultimate out­come of clos­est North Carolina gov­er­nor’s race in mod­ern his­tory,” said Mr. McCrory on YouTube.

The one-term Repub­li­can gov­er­nor made no men­tion of House Bill 2, the trans­gen­der bath­room bill he signed in April that sparked an outcry from gay rights groups and sparked an eco­nomic boy­cott against the state.

“De­spite con­tin­ued ques­tions that should be an­swered re­gard­ing the vot­ing process, I per­son­ally be­lieve that the ma­jor­ity of our cit­i­zens have spo­ken, and we now should do ev­ery­thing we can to sup­port the 75th gov­er­nor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper,” Mr. McCrory said.

Mr. Cooper held a lead of 10,263 votes in the lat­est tally from the state Board of Elec­tions. An au­to­matic re­count would be trig­gered if the race ended up with a mar­gin of fewer than 10,000 votes.

The Demo­crat’s lead had al­most dou­bled since the elec­tion nearly a month ago, and the re­count un­der­way in Durham County had shown so far al­most no change in the to­tal.

Mr. McCrory’s nar­row loss comes as a vic­tory for the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, the na­tion’s largest gay rights group, which had tar­geted him for de­feat af­ter the sign­ing of HB2.

The hotly con­tested mea­sure pre­vents lo­cal­i­ties from pass­ing or­di­nances al­low­ing op­po­site-sex use of pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties such as bath­rooms and show­ers in the name of trans­gen­der rights.

The out­come makes Mr. McCrory the first sit­ting gov­er­nor in state his­tory to lose his re-elec­tion bid — an out­lier in a year that was oth­er­wise a win­ner for Repub­li­cans in North Carolina.

“Pat McCrory’s reign of dis­crim­i­na­tion is fi­nally over,” HRC Pres­i­dent Chad Grif­fin said in a state­ment. “McCrory’s stub­born and reck­less sup­port of HB2 cost him this elec­tion, and his de­feat sends a pow­er­ful warn­ing to law­mak­ers across the coun­try that tar­get­ing LGBTQ peo­ple will not be tol­er­ated.”

The ad­vo­cacy group led an eco­nomic boy­cott of North Carolina that re­sulted in a host of high-pro­file hits to the state, in­clud­ing PayPal’s chang­ing of its plans to build a fa­cil­ity in the state and the NBA mov­ing the 2017 All-Star Game from Char­lotte, North Carolina.

Mr. Cooper, who called for re­peal­ing HB2 dur­ing the cam­paign, said Mon­day that he was “proud to have re­ceived the sup­port from so many who be­lieve that we can come to­gether to make a North Carolina that works for every­one.”

“While this was a di­vi­sive elec­tion sea­son, I know still that there is more that unites us than di­vides us,” Mr. Cooper said in a state­ment. “To­gether, we can make North Carolina the shin­ing bea­con in the south by in­vest­ing in our schools, sup­port­ing work­ing fam­i­lies and build­ing a state that works for every­one.”

Sup­port­ers of HB2 ar­gued that most vot­ers ac­tu­ally sup­ported keep­ing bi­o­log­i­cal males who iden­tify as trans­gen­der from ac­cess­ing women’s fa­cil­i­ties, but wor­ried about the im­pact of the boy­cott on the state’s econ­omy and rep­u­ta­tion.

Be­fore sign­ing HB2, Mr. McCrory was known more for his fo­cus on is­sues such as tax re­form and bal­anc­ing the bud­get than on so­cial is­sues, but he quickly be­came the face of HB2 in the HRC’s me­dia cam­paign and get-out-the-vote drives.

Other high-pro­file Repub­li­cans fared far bet­ter in North Carolina: Not only did Don­ald Trump carry the state, but Sen. Richard Burr and Lt. Gov. Dan For­est won their re-elec­tion bids. Repub­li­cans also held their veto-proof ma­jori­ties in the state House and Se­nate.

Sen. Thom Til­lis, North Carolina Repub­li­can, cred­ited Mr. McCrory with fu­el­ing the eco­nomic boom known as the “Carolina come­back.”

“Four years ago, his lead­er­ship helped ig­nite North Carolina’s strug­gling econ­omy, which is now the fastest grow­ing in the en­tire na­tion,” said Mr. Til­lis. “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.”

Pat McCrory

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