Next to the presidential race, North Carolina’s gubernatorial election may be the most watched in the nation: Residents were voting whether to reelect Republican incumbent Pat McCrory, but in a sense the race has been a referendum on HB2, the transphobic measure McCrory signed into law earlier this year.
And while the election is deemed too close to officially call, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper has claimed victory.
Cooper, currently the state’s Attorney General, has vowed to repeal HB2, which both bans trans people from using facilities matching their gender identity and prohibits municipalities from passing LGBT protections.
He and McCrory traded places in the polls all Tuesday night, but by early Wednesday morning, Cooper was leading by several thousand votes.
McCrory has vowed to make sure every vote is counted, saying he suspects there are thousands of provisional ballots that haven’t been added to the totals.
“We’ve got to respect the election system,” he said, adding that the final results won’t be known until the official canvas of votes on November 18.
Should Cooper be the ultimate victor, McCrory’s doubling down on the legislation — and the cost to the state in terms of businesses boycotting and negative publicity—will no doubt be considered a factor.
Early exit polls showed that 66% of North Carolinians oppose “bathroom laws” like HB2, compared to 29% who support them.
“Pat McCrory’s historic defeat is a beacon of hope for equality,” said HRC’s Chad Griffin and Equality North Carolina’s Chris Sgro in a joint statement. “Voters said that HB2 and the politics of hate have no place in the state of North Carolina.”