North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) finally conceded the state’s gubernatorial race to state Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) on Monday.
“Being the 74th governor of North Carolina has been a privilege and an honor,” McCrory said in a video statement. “But 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.”
Cooper released a statement shortly after McCrory conceded the race, thanking the governor for his service.
I want to thank Governor McCrory and our First Lady Ann McCrory for their service to our state. Kristin and I look forward to working with them and their staff in what I expect will be a smooth transition.
I’m 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. It will be the honor of my life to serve this great state. While this was a divisive election season, I know still that there is more that unites us than divides us. 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. I’d like to thank all of the hardworking families in North Carolina, and I look forward to serving the greatest state in the country as your Governor.
McCrory, who is the first sitting governor to lose re-election in North Carolina, has been fighting to remain in the state’s highest office since election night. Cooper declared victory over McCrory on Nov. 9 following a tight race. But McCrory refused to concede, saying the race was too close to call with Cooper up by slightly more than 4,300 votes.
Cooper continued to move ahead in the vote count since that night, but McCrory pulled several political maneuvers to try to keep his office before he consented to the will of the voters.
“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,” McCrory said in his concession statement. “The McCrory administration team will assist in every way to help the new administration make a smooth transition.”
McCrory called for more than 60,000 provisional and absentee ballots ― most of which were filed in Democratic strongholds ― to be tallied before he conceded. As votes came in, Cooper maintained an edge on McCrory, who officially filed for a statewide recount on Nov. 22, something he was eligible to do since the ballot count remained within 10,000 votes.
He didn’t stop there. McCrory’s campaign filed election protests in 52 counties, alleging dead people and felons had cast ballots. He further claimed that people had voted in multiple states and accused black voter outreach groups in Bladen County of conducting “a massive voter fraud scheme” ― despite how far-fetched it is to assume voter fraud is the reason behind any irregularities.
The campaign was especially wary of early votes cast in Durham County. McCrory had a 60,000-vote lead in the Democratic stronghold before 90,000 more ballots were tallied up late on election night. In the end, the governor lagged 2,500 votes behind Cooper. Those late ballots were hand-counted by county election officials after six data storage cards wouldn’t download election results. North Carolina’s Republican Party even accused the officials of operating with “bleary eyes and tired hands.”
Soon, however, McCrory’s attempts to draw out the election were subdued.
On Nov. 28, the state Board of Elections instructed local election boards to disregard any protest that “merely disputes the eligibility of a voter” after Republican-controlled election boards across North Carolina dismissed McCrory’s election protests.
McCrory’s campaign said on Nov. 29 that it would not pursue a statewide recount if Durham County held one. The following day, Cooper’s lead over McCrory broke 10,000 votes, disqualifying any calls for a recount and leading Cooper’s campaign to (once again) ask McCrory to concede.