Election 2020

Dems, GOP Ready for Legal Battle in North Carolina Governor's Race

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks to supporters at an election rally in Raleigh, N.C., on Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Dems and Republicans have lawyered up for what promises to be a protracted legal fight in North Carolina, where the Democratic challenger leads the incumbent GOP governor by just a few thousand votes.

Gov. Pat McCrory even launched a legal defense fund to pay for his tussle with Attorney General Roy Cooper as provisional ballots hang in the balance.

Cooper declared victory on election night, then later acknowledged that McCrory wasn’t conceding.

“This has been an extremely hard fought race, but the people of North Carolina have spoken and they have chosen a change in leadership,” Cooper said Wednesday. “We are confident once the results are certified we will confirm tonight’s victory.”

As of today, the North Carolina State Board of Elections said Cooper has 2,281,900 votes to 2,276,921 for McCrory. The Libertarian candidate, Lon Cecil, had 101,050 votes.

The GOP incumbent drew criticism and plaudits after signing the “bathroom bill” earlier in the year that required people to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. That bill is tied up in lawsuits; Cooper opposed the measure as discriminatory, with the U.S. Justice Department in agreement.

Cooper’s defense team in the gubernatorial race includes Mark Elias, former counsel to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign who previously fought North Carolina’s voter ID law. Those photo ID requirements were struck down in court and North Carolina voters didn’t need to show one to cast a ballot this week.

Attorney Jason Torchinsky is representing the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund, which is soliciting donations from individuals, corporations and political action committees.

“While people were sleeping after Election Day and waking up to the news of a new president, our team was already hard at work to ensure that every vote is properly counted and that every voter has been afforded one vote,” Torchinsky said. “We have assembled a team of the very best legal minds and election lawyers in the country to ensure that the results of this election are accurate and that every legal vote is properly counted.”

He said Thursday that “tens of thousands of ballots remain outstanding and not yet counted.”