In an election night full of close races, the contest between Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper was no exception, with the pair still at nearly a dead heat by 11 p.m. Tuesday.
“It’s too early to comment,” Surry County Republican Party chair Dan Kiger said at about 9 p.m. from local headquarters at Mayberry Mall.
Kiger said he was the “most disappointed” with the results thus far of any race in the election.
McCrory won in Surry County by a large margin, taking 68.05 percent of the vote.
Cooper, who has served as N.C. Attorney General since 2001, pulled 30.03 percent of the local vote, with Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil grabbing 1.92 percent. That translated to 21,560 Surry County votes for McCrory, 9,555 for Cooper, and 605 for Cecil.
“We figured Surry County would go red,” Kiger said. “I just hope the state and federal races will continue in that line. We’ve done our job and I’m just proud as can be.”
Statewide, Cooper was up by about five percentage points shortly after the polls closed.
McCrory had taken a narrow lead of about 1 percentage point, 2,227,996 votes to 2,173,802, with 65 of the state’s 2,704 precincts still to report results.
The contest between McCrory and Cooper was the nation’s highest-profile gubernatorial race, according to The Associated Press.
The passage of N.C. House Bill 2, which was signed into law by McCrory in March, has drawn national attention and reflects the ideological battle waged within the state’s borders.
Cooper has stated he will repeal the controversial bill concerning LGBT rights if elected, according to The Associated Press.
Surry County Democratic Party chair John Worth Wiles hadn’t expected the Democratic candidate to do well locally.
“It’s a tough sell around here,” Wiles said. “A lot of residents in Surry County are persuaded by the arguments about social policy.”
But in other areas of the state, the split was more evident.
“I think HB2 really beat him down bad,” Kiger said of McCrory, particularly because of jobs lost. “When you look at jobs, it’s a big factor.”
Earlier in the evening Kiger had spoken more confidently.
“I think Pat McCrory will win over his hard work,” such as his efforts with Hurricane Matthew recovery.
“He was there on the scene every day,” he said. “I think that will make a lot of difference to a lot of people.”
Both parties employed teams of volunteers working to get votes up until the polls closed.
“We’ve been very pleased with the response of volunteers,” said Gloria Lawrence, a local volunteer for the Democratic Party.
“We have been targeting democratic and unaffiliated voters,” she said. “We know we have an uphill battle in a conservative area. We have tried not to bother the other party’s people.”
Lawrence added that she’s been “thrilled” with the response.
“Very few hung up,” and even fewer were rude, she said. “We appreciate the citizens of Surry County.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.