By last week’s end, Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign had expanded its complaints about ballots and various “irregularites” in the just-completed election to 52 counties. And earlier, there were rumblings around the General Assembly that the legislature, overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans, might even have to ultimately decide the “contested” election — something that would, of course, guarantee McCrory’s reelection over Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper.
House Speaker Tim Moore didn’t appear particularly eager for that to happen, and now that the McCrory’s campaign’s complaints have been repeatedly rejected in the counties where questions were raised, that seems unlikely.
What’s not unlikely is that if Cooper prevails, Republican lawmakers will at least have succeeded, in their minds, in attempts to cast Cooper’s victory as a product of a cloudy election, thus trying to cast doubt on Cooper’s legitimacy as a governor.
That’s not doing a favor for anyone. Not for McCrory, who increasingly looks like a sore loser, and not for the people of North Carolina, who made their choice and deserve to be respected for that choice — by the loser as well as the winner.
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Historically, of course, voter fraud or other shenanigans are incredibly rare. And though he lost the election to Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper by at this counting about 6,000 votes, McCrory is going to the far corners of the state to call for investigations and recounts and everything way he can think of to change the outcome. But the outcome, though close, clearly isn’t going to change.
It’s hard to lose — especially as an incumbent who knows the election is at least in part a referendum on one’s performance. McCrory, who has taken a huge amount of blowback on HB2, the General Assembly’s disastrous attempt at limiting anti-discrimination efforts to protect those in the LGBT community, handled that issue poorly, looking like a weak chief executive afraid to stand up to an out-of-control legislature.
And, his touted “Carolina Comeback” has left many North Carolinians by the side of the road. Economic recovery for them has been inadequate.
The repudiation of McCrory must be all the harder to take, of course, because the gerrymandered General Assembly stayed strongly in Republican hands and Donald Trump carried the state in the presidential race. Republicans also retained a 10-3 edge in congressional seats, and the GOP’s Richard Burr, a low-profile U.S. senator, retained his seat over a strong challenge from Democrat Deborah Ross.
So that left McCrory all by his lonesome. That has got to be a bitter pill indeed.
Prolonging this fight is likely to go as it has so far, with counties reporting little if any trouble and in one case finding no need for a hand recount, which is extremely time-consuming and expensive.
The governor could serve the people well one more time by calling off his protests and conceding the election to Cooper. Certainly if the roles were reversed, that’s what he’d be calling on Cooper to do.