RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory conceded to Attorney General Roy Cooper in the race for the governorship of North Carolina in a YouTube video released around noon Monday.
The governor congratulated the governor-elect on his win in the video.
“Being the 74th governor of North Carolina has been a privilege and an honor,” McCrory said. “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 lead incumbent McCrory by about 10,250 votes from 4.7 million cast early Monday.
“Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process, I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken,” McCrory said. “And we should now do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina – Roy Cooper.”
McCrory could not capitalize on the wave of support that delivered statewide victories for Republicans Donald Trump and Sen. Richard Burr.
The win by Cooper, the state’s outgoing attorney general, gives Democrats an important consolation prize after a disappointing election across the country. However, Republicans retain super majorities in both legislative chambers.
McCrory, who became the first sitting North Carolina governor to lose a re-election bid, was weighed down by a series of divisive laws he signed, including House Bill 2.
That law limited LGBT rights and directed transgender people to use restrooms in schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates. It led to companies, sports organizations and entertainers pulling their business from the state, costing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in spending.
With appeals drying up and post-election counts padding Cooper’s narrow lead, McCrory announced he was giving up.
McCrory, who won the office by a comfortable margin four years ago, was unable to generate the same voter support that lifted Republicans Donald Trump and Richard Burr to victory in the state.
Unofficial results at the State Board of Elections showed Cooper leading McCrory by slightly more than the 10,000 votes needed to avoid an automatic recount. A total of about 4.7 million votes were cast. The state board still must officially certify the results.
Cooper was expected to speak later Monday.
Cooper has stated he wants HB2 repealed because he said it promotes discrimination and has harmed North Carolina’s brand as good place to do business.
McCrory defended signing the law and unsuccessfully tried to focus his campaign on the state’s recovering economy and finances during his four years in office. Flooding after Hurricane Matthew in October also gave McCrory the opportunity to project the image of a leader as he directed recovery efforts as cameras watched.
Cooper, a former state legislator first elected attorney general in 2000 won’t enter office from a position of strength. Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the legislature, making it difficult for him to push his agenda — or stop theirs.
CBS North Carolina will update this story as more information becomes available.
Governor-Elect Roy Cooper released a statement on Gov. McCrory’s concession just after 12:30 p.m.
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.”
The North Carolina Republican Party issued a statement following the concession that read in part:
“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.”