RALEIGH — Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory became North Carolina’s third Republican governor since the 19th century and the first since then to work with a General Assembly controlled by his own party, as the GOP built on its electoral momentum from 2010.
Voters also awarded former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the state’s 15 electoral votes, reversing course from 2008, when Democrat Barack Obama won the state by 14,000 votes. At press time, Romney led by roughly 100,000 votes. Even so, Obama won enough electoral votes nationally to secure a second term as president.
McCrory defeated Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, 55 percent to 43 percent, with Libertarian Barbara Howe collecting slightly more than 2 percent of the vote. McCrory joins Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin as the only Republicans to win the governor’s office since Reconstruction.
At press time, Republican Dan Forest held an 11,000-vote lead over Democrat Linda Coleman for lieutenant governor, winning 50.13 percent of the vote. By state law, a recount is automatic if the margin of victory is less than one percentage point.
Incumbents fared well in other Council of State races. Democrats Elaine Marshall, Wayne Goodwin, Janet Cowell, Beth Wood, and June Atkinson won new terms as secretary of state, insurance commissioner, treasurer, auditor, and superintendent of public instruction, respectively.
Meantime, Republican Cherie Berry was re-elected secretary of labor and her GOP colleague Steve Troxler won another term as agriculture commissioner.
Democrat Roy Cooper was unopposed for attorney general.
Conservatives will maintain a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court, as incumbent Justice Paul Newby turned back a challenge from state Appeals Court Judge Jimmy Ervin 52-48. The Supreme Court almost certainly will rule on the redistricting plan put into effect by the 2011-12 session of the General Assembly, so with a 4-3 majority, the district lines are likely to stand.
Incumbent Appeals Court Judge Cressie Thigpen lost to Chris Dillon, 53-47. The other incumbent appellate judges up for re-election, Linda McGee and Wanda Bryant, retained their seats.
The GOP made major gains in the state’s congressional delegation, picking up at least three seats. While Democrats held a 7-6 majority before the election, North Carolina will send at least nine and perhaps 10 Republicans to the 113th Congress.
Richard Hudson defeated incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell in the 8th District. In two open-seat races, Republican Mark Meadows won in the 11th District and George Holding prevailed in the 13th District.
One congressional race remains undecided, as 7th District Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democrat, held a 500-vote lead over Republican state Sen. David Rouzer. More than 334,000 ballots were cast, leaving McIntyre’s margin small enough to trigger a recount.
Republicans picked up at least one seat in the state Senate, expanding their lead to 32-18, pending a recount. In District 1, incumbent Democrat Stan White holds a lead of less than 500 votes of more than 85,000 cast over Republican Bill Cook. Republican Chad Barefoot of Wake County picked up the District 18 seat held by Democrat Doug Berger.
In the state House, the GOP appears to have netted nine seats, giving Republicans a 77-43 advantage. Incumbent Republican G.L. Pridgen lost his bid for re-election to Ken Waddell in District 46, but incumbent Democrats Marian McLawhorn (District 9), Martha Alexander (District 88), and Ray Rapp (District 118) were defeated.
Only one of three Republicans on the Wake County school board seeking higher office succeeded. Debra Goldman lost to Wood in the auditor’s race, and John Tedesco fell to Atkinson in the contest for superintendent. The lone victor, Chris Malone, defeated former Wake school board member Lori Millberg for House District 35. The Democratic majority on the school board will pick Malone’s successor — who may be Millberg.
In notable local ballot measures, 70 percent of Wilmington voters rejected a plan for the city to spend $37 million for a minor league baseball stadium to host an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Orange County voters overwhelmingly approved an increase in the sales tax to support transit. Wake County voters backed a bond measure supporting Wake Technical Community College. And Cary voters endorsed three bond measures totaling $80 million supporting parks, transportation and a fire station.