CHARLOTTE, N.C.—With his win Tuesday night, former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory will become the first Republican governor in North Carolina in 20 years.
Around 9 p.m. McCrory declared victory in a speech at the Charlotte Westin Hotel, as unofficial results showed him with 55 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Walter Dalton—the sitting lieutenant governor—at 43 percent. Libertarian Barbara Howe received less than 2 percent of the vote. McCrory’s victory came as the presidential race in North Carolina remained extremely tight.
McCrory ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2008 against Democrat Beverly Perdue, who didn’t seek reelection, setting the stage for Republican victory.
Benefiting from the organization he built four years ago, McCrory also received a huge boost from the Republican Governors Association, which spent nearly $6 million to support his campaign.
McCrory ran a race that focused on economic issues. North Carolina unemployment has been above the national average for most of the last four years. In his acceptance speech, McCrory said, “The Carolina comeback starts tonight.”
McCrory billed himself as a new breed of Republican: conservative on social issues, but not afraid to use government money on economic development (see “Non-Republican Republican,” by Tiffany Jothen, Sept. 22 issue of WORLD). He earned the endorsement of North Carolina Right to Life and earlier this year supported North Carolina’s Amendment One ballot measure, which affirmed traditional marriage. But McCrory appealed to younger moderate voters by supporting light rail and locally led “new urbanism” ideas.
In his acceptance speech McCrory made a point of reaching out to younger votes: “We ran a positive campaign to send a message to young people that serving in elected office can be honorable. You don’t have to tear down another person. You can win the right way.”