Ending an acrimonious stalemate that dragged on for nearly a month, Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, conceded in his bid for re-election here on Monday, clearing the way for the ascension of his challenger, the Democrat Roy Cooper, and giving the national Democratic Party a rare cause for celebration. Mr. Cooper, the state attorney general, declared victory on election night, but Mr. McCrory’s allies lodged election challenges in dozens of North Carolina counties, enraging Democrats who accused Republicans of being sore losers, or worse, in one of 2016’s closest statewide races. Most of the challenges proved to be of little consequence, however. And by Monday, as partial results of a recount of more than 90,000 votes that Republicans had demanded in Durham County showed no significant change in the results, Mr. McCrory — whose one term was buffeted by nationwide anger over a law he signed that curbed anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — had little choice but to admit defeat.
“Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process, 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,” Mr. McCrory said in a video statement released on Monday.
Mr. Cooper issued a written statement moments after. “It will be the honor of my life to serve this great state,” he said. “While this was a divisive election season, I know still that there is more that unites us than divides us. Together, we can make North Carolina the shining beacon in the south by investing in our schools, supporting working families and building a state that works for everyone.”
The sealing of Mr. Cooper’s victory — he leads by just over 10,000 votes in the unofficial state tally — brings a modicum of relief to Democrats here. Many of them had feared a post-Election Day power play by North Carolina’s Republicans, who control the state’s General Assembly, where the Republicans in recent years have enacted aggressive gerrymandering plans and a law curtailing voter access that have been struck down by the federal courts. Some feared that the Republicans would take advantage of a law that allows contested elections to be settled by a vote of the legislature.