While disappointed in the outcome of the presidential contest, North Carolina Republicans had plenty to cheer about on election night 2012 as former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory easily won election as the state’s first GOP governor in 20 years.
Republicans also built upon their majorities in the N.C. House and N.C. Senate. The GOP took control of at least three North Carolina congressional seats previously held by Democrats. And in a nonpartisan N.C. Supreme Court race closely watched by both parties, the Republican-supported incumbent won re-election over his Democratic-backed challenger.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton entered the gubernatorial race in late January when incumbent Gov. Bev Perdue abruptly announced that she would not seek re-election. After winning his party’s primary, Dalton faced a polling and funding gap against McCrory — who had been gearing up for another gubernatorial run since his close loss to Perdue in 2008.
The gaps persisted into Election Day, with McCrory ultimately defeating Dalton 55-43 percent, according to results from the State Board of Elections. Libertarian candidate Barbara Howe garnered 2 percent of the vote — enough to maintain her party’s ballot status for the next four years.
While McCrory will be North Carolina’s first Republican governor since Jim Martin left office in 1993, he will also be the first Tar Heel Republican governor to serve with a GOP-controlled legislature in more than a century. Republicans appeared to pick up nine seats in the N.C. House, building a 77-43 majority, and added one seat in the N.C. Senate, where they will have a 32-18 edge over Democrats.
The legislative wins for Republicans come two years after they took control of both chambers of the N.C. legislature for the first time in over 100 years. In the wake of the 2010 election, the new GOP majority in the N.C. General Assembly controlled the decennial redistricting process, resulting in new congressional and legislative voting maps that were viewed as being more favorable to Republican candidates.
Tuesday’s results show Republicans picking up at least three congressional seats in North Carolina, with a fourth seat in District 7 likely headed for a recount as incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre leads challenger David Rouzer by just 507 votes. A win by Rouzer would give Republicans a 10-3 advantage in the North Carolina congressional delegation, which going into this year’s election leaned 7-6 Democratic.
Two Democratic incumbents — Brad Miller in the 13th District and Heath Shuler in the 11th District — declined to run for re-election. Republicans won those seats, along with defeating incumbent Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell in the 8th District.
Contests for the Council of State saw all incumbents win re-election. The race to succeed outgoing Lt. Gov. Dalton appears headed for a recount, with Republican Dan Forest leading Democrat Linda Coleman by just under 11,000 votes out of more than 4.3 million cast in that race.
Both parties had been active in a sole race for the N.C. Supreme Court that saw incumbent Justice Paul Newby challenged by N.C. Appeals Court Judge Sam Ervin. With several outside groups spending more than $2 million in the nonpartisan race, the Republican-backed Newby defeated Ervin, 52-48 percent. The judicial contest drew an unusual amount of attention due to the possibility of the court deciding such key cases as lawsuits over Republican-drawn voting maps.