If anybody can hold a grudge, it’s former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R).
During a speech at the state Republican Party’s annual convention on Saturday, McCrory took the opportunity to once again claim that he lost his re-election bid in November because of voter fraud.
“I know for a fact that we had a lot of non-citizens that were voting,” McCrory said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it. Keep it a clean bill, stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”
Of the 508 ineligible voters who cast ballots in North Carolina during the 2016 election, only 41 were non-citizens with legal status, according to an investigation by the state Board of Elections.
Roy Cooper, a Democrat, defeated McCrory in the election by 10,277 votes.
The lie that illegal voters cost McCrory the election stems from his refusal, back in November, to accept that he’d lost the vote to Cooper, even after it was clear to everybody else.
On Nov. 9, Cooper declared victory over McCrory, who said he wouldn’t concede because the race was too close to call. (If a North Carolina political race is within a 10,000-vote margin, involved parties can ask for a statewide recount.)
Cooper, who was up by 4,300 votes on election night, continued to advance in the vote count. Instead of conceding, McCrory, who is the first sitting governor to lose re-election in North Carolina, called for more than 60,000 provisional and absentee ballots ― most of which were filed in Democratic strongholds ― to be tallied.
Still, Cooper maintained his lead, which led to McCrory filing for a statewide recount on Nov. 22.
The McCrory campaign protested election results in 52 of the state’s 100 counties, claiming that dead people and felons had voted illegally. (The audit confirmed there are 441 open cases investigating whether suspected active felons cast ballots.)
By Nov. 28, the state Board of Elections ordered local election boards to ignore any objection that “merely disputes the eligibility of a voter” after Republican-controlled election boards across North Carolina dismissed McCrory’s protests.
Cooper’s lead broke the 10,000-vote threshold on Nov. 30, which disqualified any calls for a recount and led Cooper’s campaign to ask McCrory to concede.
During his speech on Saturday, McCrory made sure to slam Cooper for how his administration has handled relief efforts in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Matthew.
McCrory claimed Cooper was slowly distributing relief funds approved during a December special session of the state General Assembly, and that he was “trying to blame President Trump” for the slow response.
“The issue’s not money, the issue is action,” McCrory told The News & Observer after the speech. “It takes a governor to speed things up, and right now, there’s no excuse for anyone not having the proper shelter and care since this hurricane occurred in October.”
North Carolina has received at least $1.4 billion in state and federal funds for Hurricane Matthew relief efforts. The storm, according to Cooper, caused $4.8 billion worth of damage. The state requested $929 million in additional federal funding in April to rebuild after the storm, but the Trump administration only approved $6.1 million in funding ― less than 1 percent of what was requested.
“Governor Cooper is focused on creating new jobs, improving our schools, and ensuring that families in Eastern North Carolina have the resources necessary to rebuild from Hurricane Matthew,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper. “We’ll leave the political punditry to the talking heads and former politicians.”
McCrory also accused Cooper of “spending millions of tax dollars on lawsuits” against the state legislature to dispute laws that place restraints on his power.
The two Republican-backed bills in question, House Bill 17 and Senate Bill 4, were signed into law by McCrory right before he left office.
HB 17 requires Cooper’s Cabinet picks to receive approval from the state Senate. SB 4 increases the number of members on the state Board of Elections from five to eight, split evenly along party lines. It also changes the number of members on county election boards from three to four, with two of them appointed by the governor.
Cooper said in December that he was willing to sue state Republicans over the bills.
“Most people might think this is a partisan power grab, but it is really more ominous,” Cooper said at the time. “It’s really about hurting public education, working families, state employees, health care and clean air and water.”