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In North Carolina, Democrat's Lead Over Antigay Governor Grows

Roy Cooper

In a bit of political good news, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper has upped his lead over Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in the North Carolina governor’s race, where votes are still being counted 10 days after the election.

Cooper’s lead is nearly 7,600 votes as of Friday afternoon, according to the Human Rights Campaign. McCrory, however, is challenging the vote in several counties and refuses to concede.

Cooper, currently the state’s attorney general, declined to defend the state’s infamous anti-LGBT House Bill 2 in court, while McCrory supported it and signed it into law in March. The law prevents cities and counties from enacting or enforcing ordinances banning anti-LGBT discrimination, and it bars transgender people from using restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-gender accommodations that match their gender identity, if those are located in government buildings.

A coalition of progressive groups is challenging HB 2 in federal court on behalf of University of North Carolina employees and others harmed by it, and the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a federal complaint against it. And because of the law, businesses have canceled expansions in the state, entertainers have canceled performances, and the NBA moved its All-Star Game.

Cooper led McCrory by about 5,000 votes on election night, and the margin has only grown since then. Today is the deadline for counties to certify their vote totals, making election results official, but officials in some counties say they won’t meet it because of McCrory’s challenges, reports TV station WKTR, located in neighboring Virginia.

He has filed challenges in 52 counties out of the state’s 100, alleging that votes were cast by dead people and convicted felons. But election boards in some counties, including Wake, Durham, Orange, and Halifax, have dismissed his complaints.

The Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina decried McCrory’s refusal to admit defeat. “Governor-elect Roy Cooper has won this election, and we’re all ready for him to restore the reputation of this great state,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a press release. “North Carolina continues to suffer from the petty and dangerous leadership of Pat McCrory who refuses to admit defeat, despite now being down by more than 6,000 votes. It is time for Pat McCrory to accept he’s lost, stop wasting taxpayer time and money, and allow for the peaceful transition of power. To undermine the results of this election would be an affront to the will of the voters, and the Human Rights Campaign and our allies are prepared to fight any attempts by Pat McCrory to overturn the will of the people. No one likes a sore loser.”

“Pat McCrory is once again putting his personal politics above the best interests of the people of North Carolina,” said Equality NC executive director Chris Sgro in the same release. “He was wrong when he signed HB 2 into law despite opposition, and he is wrong now in refusing to acknowledge his defeat and concede. A lot of politicians lost difficult races in 2016, and Pat McCrory is the only one dragging his heels and being petulant. Roy Cooper is the clear victor — the voters of North Carolina have spoken.  Pat, you have the opportunity to do the right thing and let North Carolina finally move on.”

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