While the amount of coverage the presidential election received certainly made it seem like it was the only contest on the ballot, it was not the only significant election in the state. In 2016, North Carolina had a Senate seat and its House of Representatives seats up for election as well.
Virginia Foxx ran against Democrat Josh Brannon for the second time for the Fifth District House of Representatives seat, and two-term senator Richard Burr faced Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. Both Republican incumbents won their elections, but each by a smaller margin than last time. In Foxx and Brannon’s previous battle, Foxx won 61% of the vote, but in the recent election, her support declined to 57.9%. Likewise, Burr’s support decreased from 54.8% in 2010 to 51% in 2016.
Mattie Lakey (’17) supported Burr for his positions on healthcare, while Christina Fortin (’17) supported Ross, who stands up for LGBT rights.
The race for the Governor’s Mansion, however, was much more competitive. Incumbent Governor Pat McCrory’s approval ratings have gone down since HB2, or the “bathroom bill,” was signed into law. Companies, sports tournaments, concerts, and other events have fled the state as a result of the law’s discrimination policy changes, hurting the state’s economy. Roy Cooper, the attorney general, was his Democratic opponent.
Lakey supported McCrory because she says he had a “clear head” during Hurricane Matthew. Fortin, however, supported Cooper because he was going to “get rid of HB2.”
Ms. Hendel, a history teacher at East Forsyth, predicted “a lot of change” for the election. She supported Cooper for “a number of reasons,” including education and social policies, his experience as attorney general, and his willingness to fight for equality, representation, and health. With the mayoral and city council elections in Winston-Salem, she said there was uncertainty in local politics.
Following the election, McCrory contested the results, forcing several counties to recount their ballots. He alleged that voter fraud took place, and Republicans suspected that a difference in presidential and gubernatorial results was unusual. However, McCrory finally conceded on December 5th, after the Durham County recount was completed, paving the way for Roy Cooper to become the 75th Governor of North Carolina.