Editorial: McCrory finally bows out

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Finally, the race for North Carolina governor is over. Nearly a month after the election, Gov. Pat McCrory issued a gracious concession speech Monday that was free of doubt over who won the election.

“I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken, and we now should do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper,” McCrory said in a video posted on YouTube. “The McCrory administration team will assist in every way to help the new administration make a smooth transition.”

McCrory received a lot of flak for holding out so long. But Cooper appeared at first to have a lead of less than 5,000 in a race involving more than 4.7 million votes. Conspiracy theories abounded on the Republican side — enough to convince McCrory he could still win and avoid going down in history as the first sitting governor in North Carolina to lose re-election to a four-year-term.

McCrory’s defeat is not as epic as that reference makes it sound. North Carolina just started allowing governors to run for re-election to four-year terms in the 1970s. And McCrory is only the third Republican governor in all that time. But the loss comes has a hard blow to a man whose time appeared to have come just four years ago. After gaining notice as Charlotte’s successful, progressive mayor for several terms, McCrory lost his first gubernatorial bid in 2008. Democrat Bev Perdue won the election but lost the war, thanks to the recession’s drain on state coffers and the Republican takeover of the General Assembly in 2010. McCrory won an easy victory in 2012.

That may have been the only easy aspect of McCrory’s term. The hyper-conservative, over-reaching Republicans running the legislature paid McCrory little mind. While they fashioned districts to guarantee their own re-election — three of Rowan’s four delegates didn’t even face opposition this year — McCrory had to answer to the entire state. He bore the political brunt of House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, and lost important support in Mecklenburg County over toll lanes on I-77.

Critics said McCrory’s refusal to concede in November would undermine confidence in the integrity of the vote. If anything, the end result reinforces faith in the system. McCrory’s supporters threw everything at it they could think of, but Cooper’s lead only grew. That won’t stop the “voter fraud” chatter that conspiracy theorists love, but it finally convinced Pat McCrory to bow out.