Incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat, will serve as the Governor of North Carolina for a second four-year term. After his opponent conceded, Republican Mark Robinson will be North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor and the first Black person to serve in this position.
As of 11:30 p.m., Cooper led Republican Dan Forest, the current lieutenant governor, by approximately 241,000 votes, or about 4.4%. Shortly after 11 p.m., Democrat Yvonne Holley conceded to Robinson, who was leading by approximately 175,000 votes, or about 3.3%, at the time.
In a victory speech in Raleigh, Cooper thanked voters for their continued support and promised to work hard over the next four years to represent all North Carolinians.
"To the people of North Carolina, thank you so much for electing me as your governor for another four years," Cooper said during his acceptance speech. "Serving in this office has been the honor of my life."
While the candidates’ platforms differ on numerous issues, the campaign has largely centered on their disagreement over Cooper’s COVID-19 response.
Shortly after the first COVID-19 cases were detected in North Carolina, Cooper declared a state of emergency and placed tight restrictions on schools, homes and businesses. Despite Cooper’s response to the pandemic being more cautious than that of most southern governors, his tactics have polled fairly well among North Carolinians, particularly compared to the president’s approach.
Dan Forest has repeatedly criticized Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 response and has instructed North Carolinians to keep the pandemic “in perspective.” He has also hosted numerous in-person campaign events, with many attendees not masked or socially distanced. Recently, a positive COVID-19 test was linked to one of these rallies.
Other than maintaining the course of his COVID-19 response, Cooper’s platform includes investment in renewable energy, improving access to early childhood education and continuing disaster recovery and preparation efforts.
While in office, Cooper’s key achievements have included issuing a Clean Energy Plan and repealing House Bill 2, a controversial law that removed protections for North Carolina’s LGBTQ populations.
In the lieutenant governor race, Robinson is a gun rights activist and Holley is a four-term state representative from Raleigh. Either candidate would have been the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina.
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Robinson is in favor of school choice, expanded gun rights and the prohibition of abortion. Holley supports increasing funding for affordable housing programs, putting more psychologists in schools and implementing gun legislation.
In September, Robinson was widely criticized when several homophobic, anti-Semitic posts from his Facebook page went viral. Holley remarked that she was “personally offended” by the posts, but Robinson denied that the content was offensive.
This story was updated at 11:46 p.m. Tuesday with news that Holley had conceded in the lieutenant governor race, making Robinson the victor.