McCrory wins governor’s race, ends GOP drought

Published 12:25 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

RALEIGH (AP) — Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory on Tuesday was elected North Carolina’s first Republican governor in 20 years, capturing the state’s highest office four years after barely falling short against Democrat Beverly Perdue.
With nearly a third of the precincts reporting statewide, McCrory had 55 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for Democrat Walter Dalton, according to unofficial results. Libertarian Barbara Howe had slightly less than 2 percent.
The former Duke Energy Corp. manager asserted during the campaign that the Democratic establishment broke state government and is to blame for a 9.6 percent unemployment rate that is among the nation’s highest.
McCrory, 56, will be judged on fulfilling pledges to improve the economy and public education without necessarily spending more tax money. He also pledged to expand energy exploration inland and at the coast and create a more customer-friendly state government. The Republican also has vowed to modernize the state’s tax system.
He will take the oath of office in January, five years after he first announced he was running for governor as a late arriver to the 2008 GOP primary contest. He won the 2008 primary but lost by 3 percentage points to then-Lt. Gov. Perdue.

McCrory benefited this time around from Perdue’s surprise decision in January not to seek re-election for governor in the face of low poll numbers, a sputtering economy and a campaign finance investigation that led to criminal charges against former Perdue aides and donors.

Dalton, a former state senator from Rutherfordton who was elected lieutenant governor in 2008, stepped in but he was behind almost immediately after winning a tough Democratic primary. McCrory’s campaign outraised Dalton’s 4-to-1 in the summer and early fall, limiting the Democrat’s ability to get his message out.

McCrory will become the first Republican governor since Jim Martin was elected to two terms and left office in early 1993. The only other GOP governor since 1901 was Jim Holshouser in the mid-1970s. The GOP would be in control of the Legislature and executive branch for the first time since 1870 if Republicans held into majorities in both General Assembly chambers.