Tarboro Election Day
Tarboro resident Cedric Walston receives information from precinct employees on Election Day at the Edgecombe County Administration Building Carmon Auditorium in Tarboro. File photo by Calvin Adkins / Carolina Public Press

The closest statewide election in North Carolina history is over, as state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley conceded to challenger Paul Newby Saturday morning, more than a month after Election Day.

The race had been prolonged by the extremely close finish with just a few hundred votes separating the candidates at any time, triggering two recounts. Both candidates had also issued protests around which ballots should or should not have been counted.

With Newby, a Republican, winning, the Democrats retain a smaller edge of 5-4 on the state’s highest court, after Republicans swept all statewide judicial races in North Carolina in 2020.

Despite unfounded allegations of election rigging involving the presidential race in other states, the protests in the race between Beasley and Newby focused on correct application of the rules and not on accusations of improper activity against either campaign or elections officials.

The recounts and protests uncovered a few ballots that had not been counted correctly across the state, but not enough to change the outcome of this or any other contest.

Beasley, recognizing that Newby’s lead was small but insurmountable, issued an announcement Saturday. She said she called Newby to congratulate him. She also thanked her campaign staff and supporters.

Top leaders of both parties issued congratulations to Newby and thanks to Beasley for her leadership of the courts system.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects presidential appeal

In other 13th-hour election news, the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday rejected an effort by the attorney general of Texas, joined by President Donald Trump and several other state’s attorneys general, to block acceptance of presidential election results from several states in which President-elect Joe Biden was narrowly victorious.

In North Carolina, Trump narrowly won a plurality of the vote, even though most voters cast ballots against him, but not enough for the Democratic ticket to lead the state.

Trump finished with 49.93% of the vote in North Carolina to 48.59% for Biden. Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen had 0.88% of the vote and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins had 0.22%, Constitution Party candidate Don Blankenship had 0.14% and various write-in candidates had another 0.24%.

Because Trump did lay claim to North Carolina’s still very close election, it was not included in the Texas lawsuit to block acceptance of results.

The justices released an unsigned order in response to the Texas lawsuit, without any announced dissents, saying the state did not have standing to block the results in other states’ presidential elections.

Two conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, indicated that they didn’t necessarily agree that Texas had no legal standing, but they found the case itself to have no merit.

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