State Politics

Cooper’s team claims insurmountable lead

Roy Cooper addresses supporters claiming victory over incumbent Governor Pat McCrory

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper and family relish in Cooper’s claimed victory over incumbent Governor Pat McCrory during the Democratic celebration on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in Raleigh, N.C.
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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper and family relish in Cooper’s claimed victory over incumbent Governor Pat McCrory during the Democratic celebration on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center in Raleigh, N.C.

Roy Cooper’s election law specialist told reporters on Friday that internal calculations tell the campaign that the attorney general has an insurmountable lead over Gov. Pat McCrory.

Cooper, the Democrat, has held a lead of about 5,000 votes since Election Day. That lead has increased to 7,448 votes, according to Marc Elias who spoke to reporters in a phone-in conference. He said he expects that lead to grow slightly, based on the mix of counties that have yet to report outstanding ballots.

“This race has simply gotten away from Pat McCrory,” Elias said. “More North Carolinians voted for Roy Cooper than Pat McCrory, and did so by a close but significant margin. There is nothing Gov. McCrory or his legal team are going to be able to do to undo what is just basic math.”

McCrory and state Republican officials have filed protests questioning voter integrity in 52 of the state’s 100 counties. The first of those counties that began deliberating those protests on Friday overwhelmingly rejected them.

The McCrory campaign on Friday evening asked the State Board of Elections to take the protests out of the hands of county election boards and decide the issues itself, in order to ensure consistent decisions and a quicker resolution. The state board has not yet responded.

Elias did not predict that Cooper would pull enough votes away from McCrory to prevent the governor from calling for a recount. That margin is 10,000 or fewer votes.

McCrory’s campaign and legal team have been arguing in public that the number of complaints demonstrates widespread voter irregularities, if not outright fraud, although that pattern has not yet emerged in the protests that county boards of election are considering.

Even if all those protests were upheld, which would entail as many as 200 ballots, it wouldn’t change the outcome, Elias said. Wake County alone added about 2,000 votes to Cooper’s lead on Friday. The State Board of Elections, which had not yet entered all the data from the counties, on Friday afternoon showed Cooper with a 6,600 lead.

McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz disagreed.

"More than 80 counties have postponed their canvas meetings until next week, so let's be clear: The counting is not complete and there is still no certified outcome. Roy Cooper is making presumptuous statements based on piecemeal results from a handful of Democrat-leaning counties in order to deflect attention away from serious voter fraud concerns that are emerging across the state.

“The real question people should be asking is, why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

Thomas Stark, general counsel for the N.C. Republican Party, tells reporters that he believes the Durham Board of Elections was wrong in it's decision denying his petition calling for a hand recount of ballots from the November election.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, criticizes election complaints orchestrated by Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign after two of the complaints were dismissed by the Halifax County Board of Elections Friday in Halifax, N.C.

 
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