RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina voters gave Republicans all but a stranglehold over state government as the party won the governor’s race, gained veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly and kept a majority on the state Supreme Court.
Republican Mitt Romney also beat President Barack Obama in North Carolina on Tuesday to take the state’s 15 electoral votes.
Former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was elected governor over Democrat Walter Dalton with 55 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. McCrory lost to Democrat Beverly Perdue in 2008, when Obama won North Carolina by 14,000 votes. Perdue didn’t seek re-election this year.
Ramon Barreras, 59, of Zebulon said he supported McCrory in 2008 and voted for him again in 2012. Barreras lost a job with IBM five years ago and has only been able to find part-time work since.
“Something has to change. People need jobs, and not just part time jobs or jobs that don’t pay well,” Barreras said. “I think McCrory can turn things around and do it quickly.”
McCrory doesn’t take office until January but he said he would start work Wednesday.
“People are hurting right now. People are worried about their future, and that’s what we’re going to begin working on immediately,” McCrory said.
Dalton congratulated McCrory but pointed out that education, jobs, and equality and justice will continue to matter to supporters who heard his concession speech.
“I will continue in private life to live fully, caring about those things that matter and I hope each of you will live fully and carry that torch forward,” Dalton said.
Paul Newby won re-election to the state Supreme Court in a race that was officially nonpartisan but had clear political implications.
Four of the seven current justices are Republican by voter registration. The court is expected to consider legal challenges to redistricting in the near future. Outside groups raised at least $2 million to back Newby’s re-election.
Partial unofficial results show Newby beat Sam Ervin IV to win another eight-year term on the state’s highest court.
Republicans expanded their control in the General Assembly by gaining a veto-proof majority in the House and keeping one in the Senate.
Unofficial results show Republicans won 32 seats in the Senate and at least 76 in the House. Republicans held 68 seats in the House and 31 in the Senate over the past two years. GOP lawmakers increased their grip on the Legislature because the majorities they won in 2010 entitled them to redraw maps for the legislative districts based on once-a-decade Census figures.
The race for lieutenant governor between Republican Dan Forest and Democrat Linda Coleman was too close to call early Wednesday.
Forest is the son of retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte and leaned on his party’s tea party and evangelical blocs. Coleman has been a state worker for more than 30 years and was most recently Gov. Beverly Perdue’s state personnel director before stepping down to run for the state’s No. 2 office.
Incumbents won seven other statewide races to head executive agencies.
Unofficial results show Democrat Janet Cowell of Raleigh winning re-election Tuesday over Republican accountant Steve Royal of Elkin.
Republican Steve Troxler was re-elected as the state’s agriculture commissioner over Democrat Walter Smith, a Yadkin County poultry grower and retired USDA Farm Service Agency official.
Republican Cherie Berry won a fourth term as labor commissioner, the job responsible for protecting the safety of the state’s four million workers. Berry beat Democrat John Brooks, who was labor commissioner from 1977 to 1993.
Incumbent Wayne Goodwin defeated Republican Mike Causey of Greensboro for state insurance commissioner, a job responsible for regulating insurance companies and balancing company profits with consumer needs.
Democratic incumbent Elaine Marshall will serve a fifth term as secretary of state after defeating Republican Ed Goodwin of Edenton.
Democrat Beth Wood was re-elected to a second term as state auditor. She beat Republican Debra Goldman, a member of the Wake County school board, which oversees North Carolina’s largest school district.
Another member of the Wake school board, Republican John Tedesco, lost his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent June Atkinson as state superintendent of public instruction.
Schoolteacher Elwin “Skip” Thibault was particularly focused on the Atkinson race, but the former Reagan Republican said he found himself pushed toward Democrats because he values separation of church and state.
“The right-wing of the Republican Party has kind of scared me away,” said Thibault, 53, of Raleigh “They left me way in the dust.”
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