Republican Cherie Berry has won a fifth term as North Carolina labor commissioner.
Democratic challenger Charles Meeker said he called Berry at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to concede the race.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Berry had about 56 percent of the vote and Meeker had about 44 percent.
Berry said Tuesday night that she plans to continue what she has done during the past 16 years, partnering with businesses to make workplaces safer.
“There’s nothing more important than making sure everyone goes home safely at the end of the work day,” she said.
Cherie Berry, a former co-owner of a company that made spark plugs, won her fifth term as North Carolina labor commissioner.
Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, a lawyer, tried unsuccessfully to unseat Berry.
About the office
The commissioner leads the state Department of Labor, which is responsible for protecting the health and safety of more than 4 million North Carolina workers. The department oversees workplace safety, inspects elevators, mines and amusement rides, and administers the state’s wage-and-hour law.
What shaped the race
Berry has said that under her leadership, North Carolina’s workplace injury and illness rates have declined to their lowest levels in history.
As commissioner, she says she has helped lower worker’s compensation costs.
She maintained that her office can do more to protect workers by partnering with companies than by penalizing them.
“We want to make North Carolina the most business friendly state in the nation,” she said.
Berry has become one of the state’s most recognized politicians because her name and photo appear on the certifications posted inside every elevator. That has also earned her a nickname: “The Elevator Lady.”
Meeker maintained that labor commissioners shouldn’t use the elevator inspection placards to raise their profiles.
Meeker also contended that the labor department isn’t doing its job. He points to stories, published in the Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer, detailing Berry’s aversion to regulations.
Meeker has also criticized Berry for accepting “improper contributions” from corporate executives who have cases pending before her agency.
Cherie Berry, R (i) 55.88%
Charles Meeker, D 44.00%
2,678 out of 2,704 precincts reporting.