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North Carolina appeared to have elected new governor, as results early Wednesday showed that Democrat Roy Cooper beat incumbent Republican Pat McCrory by 5,001 votes, even as the state’s lieutenant governor will remain a Republican. Dan Forest won with 51.87 percent of the vote, leaving Democrat Linda Coleman 45.28 percent of unofficial results.
But with many provisional ballots and possibly late absentee ballots remaining uncounted, the election’s outcome remained unclear. Even if Cooper maintained his lead, it might not be enough to avoid triggering an automatic statewide recount.
Also extremely close were races for Attorney General, State Auditor, Commissioner of Insurance and Superintendent of Public Instruction, each of which could potentially see a changed result after local boards of election canvass the votes next week.
Based on the unofficial results from Election Day, the following council-of-state candidates led. Those whose lead was substantial enough to declare them the clear winner are noted with an asterisk (*).
Josh Stein, D, attorney general
*Cherie Berry, R, commissioner of labor
Mike Causey, R, commissioner of insurance
*Dale Folwell, R, state treasurer
Mark Johnson, R, superintendent of public instruction
*Elaine Marshall, D, secretary of state
*Steve Troxler, R, commissioner of agriculture
Beth Wood, D, state auditor
UPDATE (Nov. 18) — Due to a database question related to voter registrations at the Department of Motor Vehicles that affects most North Carolina counties, canvassing to review provisional ballots is being delayed in those counties, including Buncombe. The governor’s office has also raised questions about alleged fraudulent votes in many counties and substantial irregularities in Durham County. Each of these issues has the potential to affect the total statewide vote count. Several county election boards, including Buncombe, met briefly on Friday, Nov. 18, then adjourned until a later date so that some of these issues can be resolved before they complete their count of provisional ballots. If the margin between the candidates is sufficiently close after all counties have finished counting, the candidate who trails may be able to request a full statewide recount. In addition to scattered local races around the state, the statewide races for governor, attorney general, commissioner of insurance, superintendent of public instruction and state auditor remain too close to call.
While officially nonpartisan, the single race on the ballot this year for North Carolina Supreme Court had the potential to decide the political tilt of the board. Associate Justice Bob Edmunds, a Republican, trailed Mike Morgan, a Democrat, by about 9 percentage points.
Elsewhere, Democrat Linda Stephens’s early lead over Phil Berger Jr. for the Court of Appeals evaporated, putting the Republican ahead. Meanwhile Republicans Hunter Murphy, Bob Hunter, Richard Dietz and Valerie Zachary won their Court of Appeals races.
Results show that Republicans kept control of the both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. The following are the unofficial results for General Assembly races affecting Western North Carolina:
N.C. Senate District 47 (Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Avery, McDowell and part of Rutherford)
*Ralph Edward Hise Jr., R, 64.84%
Mary Silvers Boyd, D, 35.16%
N.C. Senate District 48 (Henderson, Transylvania and part of Buncombe)
*Charles “Chuck” Marion Edwards, R, 62.03%
Norman Bossert, D, 37.97%
N.C. Senate District 49 (part of Buncombe)
*Teresa “Terry” Quaid Van Duyn, D, 74.44%
William Cole Meredith, L, 25.56%
N.C. Senate District 50 (Jackson, Swain, Macon, Graham, Clay, Cherokee, Transylvania and Haywood)
*James “Jim” Wayland Davis, R, 62.48%
Jane Bates Hipps, D, 37.52%
N.C. House District 85 (Avery, McDowell and Mitchell)
*Joshua “Josh” Robert Dobson, R, 100%
N.C. House District 93 (Watauga and a non-WNC county)
*Jonathan Christian Jordan, R, 53.01%
Percilla Sue Counts, D, 46.99%
N.C. House District 112 (Rutherford and a non-WNC county)
*David Rogers, R, 70.94%
Ben Edwards, U, 29.06%
N.C. House District 113 (Polk, Henderson, Transylvania)
*Cody Hayden Henson, R, 61.6%
Maureen Theresa Mahan Copelof, D, 38.4%
N.C. House District 114 (portions of Buncombe)
*Susan Carscaddon Fisher, D, 100%
N.C. House District 115 (portions of Buncombe)
*John Curtis Ager Jr., D, 55.6%
Frank Hannon Moretz, R, 44.4%
N.C. House District 116 (portions of Buncombe)
*Brian Mills Turner, D, 100%
N.C. House District 117 (portions of Henderson)
*Charles “Chuck” Worden McGrady, R, 100%
N.C. House District 118 (portions of Haywood, Madison, Yancey)
*Michele Donna Presnell, R, 55.36%
Rhonda Cole Schandevel, D, 44.64%
N.C. House District 119 (portions of Haywood, Swain, Jackson)
*James Michael “Mike” Clampitt, R, 50.43%
Joe Sam Queen, D, 49.57%
N.C. House District 120 (portions of Macon, Clay, Cherokee, Graham)
*Harold Kevin Corbin, R, 72.05%
Randy Darrell Hogsed, D, 27.95%
Executive Director Angie Newsome contributed to this report.