In a video released on Monday, Republican North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory ended almost a full month of political maneuvering and protest filings and conceded the gubernatorial election to Democrat Roy Cooper, who won with a slim but decisive margin that’s grown to about 10,000 votes.
Sitting in front of a Christmas tree and a pillow depicting another Christmas tree, McCrory announced that it’s “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.”
“Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process,” he added, “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, following a huge controversy surrounding anti-LGBT legislation he passed this spring, becomes the first North Carolina governor to lose reelection.
At a time of ramped-up GOP momentum towards voter suppression following the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act—up to and including our President-Elect’s wildly false claim that “millions” of people voted illegally in an election he won—it was, to put it lightly, very nerve-wracking to watch an unpopular elected official cling to power following his democratic ousting by using similarly far-fetched accusations, particularly considering the North Carolina state legislature’s Republican supermajority. Making the mostly unsubstantiated claim that felons and dead people had cast ballots, the McCrory campaign filed election protests in 52 counties (most of which were dismissed by Republican-controlled election boards) and accused black voter outreach groups of conducting a “massive voter fraud scheme.”
A draconian voter ID law passed by McCrory in 2013 was struck down by a federal appeals court this summer, with Judge Diana Gribbon Motz asserting that “the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist.”