In addition to the governor’s race, the attorney general election likely won’t be final for days.
Democrat Josh Stein declared victory late Tuesday night with a 20,753-vote lead over Republican Buck Newton, which represents 0.46 percent of the votes cast.
Provisional ballots must still be counted, but Stein’s lead would need to shrink to less than 10,000 votes in order for Newton to request a recount under state law.
Newton’s campaign said Wednesday morning that the state senator from Wilson will not concede until all votes are counted.
“We’re monitoring outstanding absentees, provisionals, etc., to see where things stand,” campaign spokesman Michael Luethy said in an email. “With the race so close, we are committed to making sure every vote counts and preventing any shenanigans from overcoming the will of the voters in this race.”
The N.C. Democratic Party says Stein has won the race, and the former state senator from Raleigh spoke Tuesday night at the party’s post-election gathering.
Stein’s campaign issued a response to Newton’s statement Wednesday afternoon. “The voters of North Carolina have elected Josh Stein as Attorney General,” campaign manager Seth Dearmin said in an email. “Josh is very grateful and looks forward to protecting families across North Carolina as their Attorney General.”
Stein fared better than most other Democrats running statewide. Only Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and N.C. Supreme Court candidate Mike Morgan ended Election Night with bigger leads.
No concessions yet in insurance commissioner, auditor races: Newton isn’t the only Council of State candidate who hasn’t conceded a close race.
The race for state auditor is the tightest statewide race: Incumbent Democrat Beth Wood has a 3,101-vote lead, or 0.06 percent of votes cast.
Republican challenger Chuck Stuber said Wednesday that he expects to request a recount if the narrow margin remains when provisional ballots are counted.
“We would definitely request a recount,” Stuber said. “I owe that to all the people who have supported and encouraged me throughout my run for the state auditor position and the over 2 million voters who cast their ballots for me. I'm guessing this has to be one of the smallest margins ever to decide a Council of State race. What an indoctrination into the political arena!”
Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, a Democrat seeking his third term, trails Republican Mike Causey by 38,687 votes, or 0.86 percent – outside the margin for a recount if those numbers hold. The Associated Press called the race for Causey early Wednesday morning.
Causey, who fell short in four previous campaigns for state insurance commissioner, declared victory on his Facebook page at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday. But Goodwin said Wednesday afternoon that he won’t make a concession announcement yet.
“I will make a determination only after we assess the provisional and military ballots that are yet to be counted and related matters,” Goodwin said in an email.
The commissioner regulates the insurance industry and serves as the state fire marshal.
During the campaign Causey, a retired insurance-industry veteran and former lobbyist, called for overhauling the state’s insurance system, which he said stifled competition, in order to attract companies offering new products and discounts not available in North Carolina.
He called the N.C. Rate Bureau, which represents the insurance industry when it seeks changes in rates, “the insurance cartel” and argued that individual companies should be able to opt out of being represented by the bureau.
“We had a good message, and the message was: More choices, better service and lower rates,” Causey said Wednesday afternoon. “North Carolina is the only state out of 50 states that has our outdated insurance system that hurts consumers, that keeps consumers from getting discounts offered in other states.”
“We can thank Donald Trump for helping me get across the finish line,” he said.
David Ranii contributed