Athens – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he was conceding the election to Democrat Roy Cooper, the state’s attorney general, nearly a month after the vote.
McCrory’s race was widely seen as a litmus test for the ‘religious liberty’ fight in Georgia, and the news about his decision quickly ping-ponged around the legislative biennial training session for state lawmakers.
Republican leaders, including Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston, have pointed to McCrory as a cautionary tale for the likely revival of the measure next year. Supporters say the legislation McCrory championed – known as the ‘bathroom bill’ – has little comparison to the fight in Georgia.
Still, the North Carolina contest has been invoked by a surprising number of conservative supporters of Georgia’s measure, which was vetoed by Deal in March. Look for others hoping to tap the brakes on the debate to use it as cover.
With the concession, McCrory becomes the state’s first governor to lose a re-election bid. His defeat followed the nation’s second costliest gubernatorial race and North Carolina’s most expensive ever.
McCrory’s concession comes nearly a month after Election Day, following dozens of election complaints filed by Republicans with help from the governor’s campaign. The majority of them were dismissed by GOP-controlled county election boards.
McCrory referenced those concerns in his concession video, calling them “continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process.” The governor called Saturday for a State Bureau of Investigation probe into absentee ballots in Bladen County, shortly after the State Board of Elections dismissed a protest calling for those ballots to be thrown out.