On Monday, nearly a full month after Election Day, Republican Pat McCrory finally conceded the governor’s race in North Carolina to his Democratic challenger, Roy Cooper.
Even as Republicans across the South and Midwest rode the coattails of Donald Trump’s victory to greater control of state governments, McCrory was the only incumbent Republican in the country to lose a statewide race.
This is a victory for North Carolina and the “Moral Mondays” movement that arose to resist McCrory’s extremism. For anyone committed to resisting extremism in the coming Trump years, McCrory’s failed one-term governorship is a case study worthy of attention.
When McCrory became governor-elect four years ago, I sat down with him to discuss the 14-point moral agenda that a broad coalition of justice organizations had committed to pursue together in this state that went for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012.
We knew well that the expansion of voting rights we had won in the 2007 legislative session was under attack by Republican strategists in North Carolina and beyond. They had invested millions in state legislature races in 2010 to regain control and gerrymander voting districts to “crack and pack” our coalition of voters. Only by securing all three branches of government could they complete the makeover of North Carolina they had promised (a set of promises that were echoed by the Trump campaign this year).
McCrory’s broad smile echoed his optimism when he talked about getting North Carolina’s economy working again. Celebrated as a moderate mayor in Charlotte, our state’s largest city, McCrory was glad to sit and listen to our concerns. “I’ll meet with you once a month if you will promise not to criticize this administration in public, ” McCrory told me. Politics, he believed, was the art of negotiating deals in private. But we had already learned what every American must understand in the coming Trump years: Democracy depends on everyday people standing together in public, refusing to be divided by those who fail to serve the common good.
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