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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper enters office with call to end partisan friction

But new governor calls for repeal of law regulating transgendered bathroom use

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

north-carolina mugRALEIGH (CFP) — In his inaugural address, incoming North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a call to end the contentious politics that have bedeviled the start in recent years, but he also made it clear that he would push for repeal of a bill that limited use of public restroom facilities for transgendered people.

Attorney General Roy Cooper

Attorney General Roy Cooper

“The people of this state are tired of yesterday’s politics. You expect and deserve public servants who reject cynicism, who don’t succumb to political paralysis, who negotiate differences in good faith,” Cooper said.

“I don’t think anyone believes that North Carolina families sit around the kitchen table every night thinking that their lives would change for the better if only the legislature would spend its time on the hot-button social issues of the day,” he said.

“People have bigger concerns, like why they haven’t gotten a raise in eight years or why the cost of health insurance is too much to bear or if they can afford to send their kids to college.”

Because of a snowstorm that paralyzed North Carolina, Cooper delivered his January 7 inaugural address on television, rather than to an outdoor crowd as initially planned.

Cooper, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory by just 10,277 votes out of nearly 4.8 million cast, which was the nation’s closest gubernatorial election this year and the only one that flipped from Republican to Democratic.

The most contentious issue in that election was House Bill 2 — passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by McCrory — which required transgendered people to use bathrooms in public facilities consistent with their birth gender, rather than the gender with which they identify.

Cooper, who was attorney general at the time, opposed the measure and refused to defend it in court. In the wake of the bill’s passage, a number of major companies have dropped plans to move or expand in North Carolina, and the NBA, NCAA and ACC have all pulled sporting events out of the state.

After the election, the legislature met in special session to consider repealing the law, but Republican supporters of the law scuttled the effort. Cooper made in clear in his inaugural address that he would keep trying.

“This law has isolated and hurt a lot of people, damaged our state’s reputation and cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars that could have paid our teachers and firefighters or built new highways,” he said.

“There are enough bipartisan votes in the legislature right now to fully repeal HB2 with no strings attached. This is not complicated. In fact, it’s very simple. Let them vote.”

Cooper will face a legislature dominated by Republicans. In the Senate, the GOP holds 35 seats to 15 for Democrats; in the House, Republicans have 74 seats and Democrats 46. Those margins are enough to override Cooper’s vetoes, which only requires a three-fifths majority in the Tar Heel State.

However, in late November, a federal judge struck down the state’s legislative districts on the grounds that they were improperly gerrymandered using racial considerations and ordered the legislature to draw new maps.

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, new elections for the entire General Assembly will have to be held in 2017, which could allow Democrats to gain back some ground.

After the election, the legislature also passed measures to limit the number of political appointments Cooper can make and require that his cabinet picks to be approved by the legislature. Cooper has gone to court to challenge those new laws.

Cooper, 59, from Nash County in eastern North Carolina, served four terms as attorney general before seeking the governorship, the second longest tenure in that office in state history.

Recount begins in North Carolina governor’s race

State board sets Monday deadline for recounting ballots in Durham County

♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor

north-carolina mugRALEIGH (CFP) — The hotly contested North Carolina governor’s race has entered what is likely its final stage, with elections officials in Durham County now recounting ballots to meet a Monday deadline.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory has indicated that he will concede to Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper if the recount doesn’t overturn Cooper’s slight lead.

With ballots certified in 98 of the state’s 100 counties, Cooper leads McCrory by 10,263 votes, out of more than 4.7 million votes cast.

If that margin holds after the Durham recount, McCrory won’t be entitled to a full statewide recount, which is only triggered if the margin is less than 10,000 votes.

The deadline for finishing the recount is 7 p.m. ET Monday.

Attorney General Roy Cooper

Attorney General Roy Cooper

Cooper beat McCrory by a margin of 91,000 votes in Durham County, taking a whopping 79 percent of the vote, which was his best performance in any county.

The contention over the results in Durham began on election night, when a batch of 90,000 votes came in all at once, propelling Cooper — who had trailed most of the night — into the lead statewide.

McCrory and his campaign found those results suspicious and demanded a recount. However, Durham election officials said the late reporting of results was caused by a technical problem that forced them to enter the results from voting machines by hand.

The Durham County elections board turned down McCrory’s request for a recount, but the State Board of Elections voted along party lines to order one.

In North Carolina, both state and county elections boards are appointed by the governor, and the governor’s party holds a majority.

McCrory’s campaign has indicated that he will concede to Cooper if the Durham results don’t change the outcome. He has already filed the paperwork for a statewide recount, although that request would be moot if Cooper’s margin holds.

Cooper’s campaign has been calling on McCrory to concede and bring to an end the three-week drama over who will lead the Tar Heel State.

“It’s clear there is no path to victory for Governor McCrory,” said Cooper campaign manager Trey Nix in a statement posted on Facebook. “It’s time for Governor McCrory to accept the election results and respect the will of the voters.”

Should Cooper hang on, North Carolina would be the only state where Democrats flipped a governorship in 2016 and would give them a third Southern governorship, compared to 11 for Republicans.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

McCrory rode a GOP wave into office in 2012, but the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a controversial voter ID law and measures favored by religious conservatives made the governor a lightning rod.

The issue that dominated the race was McCrory’s decision to sign a law requiring transgendered students to use bathrooms that match their gender of birth, rather than their gender of identity, in public facilities.

McCrory continued to defend the law, even after a number of businesses scuttled expansion plans and the NCAA, NBA and ACC pulled events from the state.

Cooper not only opposed the measure, but he also refused to defend it in court when students and the federal government took legal action to overturn it.

Governor: North Carolina still up for grabs; Democrats keep West Virginia

Cooper declares victory in North Carolina, but McCrory refuses to concede; Justice has easy win in West Virginia

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) –Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper has claimed victory in the North Carolina governor’s race, holding an tiny, unofficial  4,700-vote lead over Governor Pat McCrory with provisional ballots still to be counted.

McCrory, however, is refusing to concede, pending counting of those ballots and a full canvass of the vote.

Meanwhile, in the only other Southern governor’s race this year, in West Virginia, Jim Justice, a billionaire coal mine owner, defeated Republican State Senate President Bill Cole by a margin of 49-42 percent to win an open seat.

Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Roy Cooper

Roy Cooper

In North Carolina, Cooper, who had trailed for most of the night, declared victory after late-reporting returns from Durham County put him ahead of McCrory.

“Because of your hard work, we have won this race for everyone in North Carolina,” Cooper told jubilant supporters in Raleigh. “This has been a hard-fought race, but the people of North Carolina have spoken, and they want a change in leadership.”

But McCrory refused to concede defeat, specifically mentioning the late Durham County vote as a concern. He said he would wait until seeing the results of the official canvasses in the state’s 100 counties, which won’t be completed until November 18.

“We’re going to check everything,” he told supporters at a Republican election night party in Raleigh. “We’re going to make sure every vote counts in North Carolina.”

The margin between Cooper and McCrory is less than one-tenth of 1 percent, small enough to allow McCrory to request a full recount under state law.

McCrory rode a GOP wave into office in 2012, but the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a controversial voter ID law and measures favored by religious conservatives made the governor a lightning rod.

The issue that has dominated the race was McCrory’s decision to sign a law requiring transgendered students to use bathrooms that match their gender of birth, rather than their gender of identity, in public facilities.

McCrory continued to defend the law, even after a number of businesses scuttled expansion plans and the NCAA, NBA and ACC pulled events from the state.

Cooper not only opposed the measure, but he also refused to defend it in court when students and the federal government took legal action to overturn it.

Jim Justice

Jim Justice

In West Virginia, Justice’s win was good news for Democrats, who have seen their once dominant hold on state politics slipping away. He won the governorship even as Donald Trump was thumping Hillary Clinton 65-29 percent in the Mountaineer State.

Speaking to supporters at the famed Greenbrier result in White Sulphur Springs, which he owns, Justice pulled out a speech from his pocket and began to read, only to discover that it was a concession speech.

Pulling a victory speech from his other pocket, he said, “We won.”

“I can tell you I’ll work as tirelessly as I possibly can,” Justice said. “We will give it everything we have.”

The seat was open because Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was term-limited.

Voters in North Carolina, West Virginia to pick governors

GOP’s McCrory tries to stay alive in North Carolina; Justice, Cole battle for open seat in West Virginia

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Voters in North Carolina and West Virginia are picking governors in the November 8 election, with polls showing tight races in both states.

In North Carolina, incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is running for a second term against Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper in what has become the nation’s most watched — and most expensive — gubernatorial battle.

Coooper

Coooper

McCrory

McCrory

McCrory rode a GOP wave into office in 2012, but the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a controversial voter ID law and measures favored by religious conservatives have made the governor a lightning rod.

The issue that has dominated the race is McCrory’s decision to sign a law requiring transgendered students to use bathrooms that match their gender of birth, rather than their gender of identity.

McCrory has continued to defend the law, even after a number of businesses scuttled expansion plans and the NCAA, NBA and ACC pulled events from the state.

Cooper not only opposed the measure, but he also refused to defend it in court when students and the federal government took legal action to overturn it.

Justice

Justice

Cole

Cole

In West Virginia, Democrats who have seen their once dominant hold on state politics slip away are hoping to revive their fortunes with Jim Justice, a billionaire coal mine owner best known for his efforts to revive the state’s famed Greenbrier Resort.

He faces Republican State Senate President Bill Cole, who an auto dealer from Bluefield who became leader of the chamber in 2015 after the GOP captured a Senate majority for the first time in 83 years.

This seat is open because Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is term-limited. A Republican has not been elected governor in the Mountaineer State since 1996.

State of the Races: Governor 2016

Competitive chief executive races on the ballot in North Carolina, West Virginia

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

southern states sm(CFP) — In 2016, just two Southern states will be holding races for governor, and the races in both North Carolina and West Virginia are expected to be close, hard-fought affairs.

Heading into the election, Republicans hold 11 of 14 governorships in the South, in all but Louisiana, Virginia and West Virginia.

Here are this year’s races:

McCrory

McCrory

Coooper

Cooper

North Carolina: Incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory is running for a second term against the Tar Heel State’s Democratic attorney general, Roy Cooper. McCrory rode a GOP wave into office in 2012, but the Republican-controlled legislature’s passage of a controversial voter ID law and measures favored by religious conservatives have made the governor a lightning rod. The issue dominating the race is McCrory’s decision to sign a law requiring transgendered students to use bathrooms that match their gender of birth, rather than their gender of identity. Cooper not only opposed the measure, but he also refused to defend it in court. Expect massive amounts of outside cash to be poured into this race, which has become the latest battle in the culture wars. RATING: TOSS-UP

Justice

Justice

Cole

Cole

West Virginia: Democrats in the Mountaineer State, who have seen their once dominant hold on state politics slip away, are hoping to revive their fortunes with Jim Justice, a billionaire coal mine owner best known for his efforts to revive the state’s famed Greenbrier Resort. He faces Republican State Senate President Bill Cole, who became leader of the chamber in 2015 after the GOP captured a Senate majority for the first time in 83 years. Cole, an auto dealer from Bluefield, is hoping to become the first Republican elected governor in West Virginia since 1996. To get there, he’ll have to overcome Justice’s deep pockets. This seat is open because Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is term-limited, putting this race near the top of the GOP’s target list. RATING: TOSS-UP

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