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Dan Forest To Be Lieutenant Governor

One of the most heavily contested political races in the state has come to a close. Republican Dan Forest will become North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor. This comes after a count of provisional and mail-in absentee ballots that showed he outpaced his opponent, Democrat Linda Coleman, by roughly seven thousand votes out of 4-point-2 million cast. Capitol Bureau Chief Jessica Jones reports. 

Jessica Jones: Linda Coleman could have asked for an official recount of her race against Dan Forest. That’s because she trailed him by less than ten thousand votes. But in a news conference at the state’s Democratic Party headquarters this morning, she conceded the race.

Linda Coleman: Moments ago, I spoke with Mr. Forest, and congratulated him on becoming North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor. It was a hard fought spirited campaign and we have stark differences. But in the end, in a tight race, North Carolinians chose Mr. Forest as their next lieutenant governor.

Coleman thanked her supporters and volunteers. And she said she wishes the best for Lieutenant Governor-elect Forest.

Coleman: I pray that God guides him and his family on this journey. The trust of the office is in his hands. I hope and believe that he will honor that trust with temperate judgement and a servant’s heart.

Coleman says she’s glad that the count of provisional and mail-in ballots showed just how narrow the margin was. Last week, Coleman threatened to sue over the state’s voting rules, saying the state Constitution allows same-day voter registration on Election Day. She also wanted to count the votes of anyone who cast the provisional ballot. But Coleman says she won’t be suing now.

Coleman: This today puts an end to everything. There will be no lawsuits. Today ends the campaign. We know that what we have done- we have shined a light on some of the flaws of the system. And hope that through our past actions some of those flaws will be understood.

Coleman’s concession helped pave the way for a historic moment in North Carolina- Dan Forest will be only the second Republican lieutenant governor to serve with a Republican governor in modern history.

Dan Forest: We’re very thankful for this moment, got a call from Mrs. Coleman about an hour ago, and she conceded the election to us very graciously. Wished us luck in the future as well.

Forest spoke at the Republican party headquarters in Raleigh earlier today, surrounded by his wife and four children.

Forest: We started this race about 20 months ago with no name recognition no money no office no staff no volunteers and here we are 20 months later being confirmed next lieutant governor of north carolina…made history by all that volunteer effort out there.

It has been an uphill battle for Forest, who was painted as a Republican extremist by the spokesman for the State Employees Association of North Carolina. Although Forest is an architect with no previous political experience, his mother is Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick of Charlotte. But Forest says he’s not extremist, and he says he’ll work to govern in the spirit of bipartisanship. Forest says he wasn’t expecting a recount to change the outcome.

Forest: It’s never happened in a statewide race before, especially with a margin our size, and most likely we would’ve come back with the same conclusion and just delayed the inevitable. So we certainly weren’t surprised by that but we’re very thankful for it.

Forest says he plans to meet with every member of the North Carolina Senate. As Lieutenant Governor, his main role is to preside over the Senate and cast deciding votes in case of a tie. Just how active he is otherwise depends on what Governor-elect Pat McCrory decides. Forest says he looks forward to working with McCrory. He says they have a good relationship.

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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