by Bob Geary
Linda Coleman was trying to be the first African-American woman elected statewide. (The late Ralph Campbell, elected state auditor, is still the only African-American male.) Coleman lost by 0.16 percent, or 6,585 votes out of more than 4.3 million cast. Forest, a tea-party style Republican, is retiring Charlotte Congresswoman Sue Myrick's son. I've seen it suggested — and think there's some truth to it — that if former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, the governor-elect, proves too much of a moderate for the Republican General Assembly, Forest could challenge his Charlotte base in a 2016 primary for governor.
Here's Coleman's concession speech from this morning:
Thank you for joining me this morning. Let me begin by thanking my family, a constant source of love and support, who have stood by me every day of this campaign. In their eyes and in the eyes of their children, I see the hope and future of this generation.
How we lead, today, determines the tomorrow we leave for them. Delivering a better tomorrow for all North Carolinians is why I entered this race. This campaign, our campaign, has always been forward-thinking and I’m proud of the work we accomplished together.
I’m proud of the many voices who have championed the cause of this campaign—from Congresswoman Eva Clayton, to Governor Hunt, to Dr. Maya Angelou—it is a testament to the lives we have touched over the past several months.
I have said time and time again, that we have the best supporters North Carolina has to offer. From the men and women who joined our call for quality education, to protecting the middle class, for standing up for women’s healthcare. Together, we brought our issues to the forefront of the political discussion this year. I have always been a defender of the defenseless, a voice for the voiceless, that is why you have stood by me—not because of me, but because of what I stand for.
I want to thank my staff for working tirelessly, day end and day out, around the clock and through the night. They knew the stakes and the challenges facing every day North Carolinians—this was more than a job for them, it was a fight for the values we all hold dear. In them, I see future leaders and look forward to their continued service to our state and country.
The days since Election Day have been strenuous for all involved in this endeavor. Our post-election effort has, so far, shined a bright light on the flaws of our provisional ballot counting process. Together, we helped get at least several hundred additional ballots counted. And while we contend that there remain at least 3,000 ballots that should be counted, we face the reality that an extended legal battle would not alter the outcome of this race.
But, I want you to know that I am truly proud of all of you. The work you have done to make sure every vote counts means so much to me. We made sure the election was fair. We worked to make sure every vote was counted and everyone’s voice was heard. We know that what we were fighting for was bigger than just this race. We waged a fight to protect our most sacred constitutional right: access to the ballot box. In the end, our instinct was right and the results narrowed significantly.
But, today is a day for reflection and rebirth. Today is both a beginning and an end. We embrace the future undaunted. We remain confident that the resounding ideals we stood for will have a lasting impression on politics in North Carolina.
Moments ago, I spoke with Mr. Forest and congratulated him on becoming the next Lt. Governor of North Carolina. It was a hard-fought, spirited campaign and we have stark differences. But, in the end, in a tight race, North Carolinians have chosen Mr. Forest to serve. I pray that God guides him and his family on this journey. The trust of this office is now in his hands. I hope and believe that he will honor that trust with tempered judgment and a servant’s heart.
Now, more than ever, our leaders must answer the call of service. North Carolina will face many challenges in the next few years. We need the Governor-elect and Lt. Governor-elect to meet these challenges with dignity and loyalty to the people of North Carolina. A favorite adage of this campaign has been results, not rhetoric. We need results for our struggling middle class, resources for our renowned education system and innovation for a vibrant North Carolina economy.
North Carolina will always have a friend and an advocate in me. I seek only to serve this state and the betterment of its people.
I’m proud to live in a state that made history during this campaign by nominating the first-ever African-American woman to seek statewide executive office. I’m proud to be a part of our state’s rich history of progress and prosperity. While we may have fallen short, today, I want my friends and supporters to hold their heads high knowing that because of the trail we blazed, we’ve made it that much easier for the next generation to stand up and be heard.
I’m proud of the young people who knocked doors, made phone calls and engaged their friends to become a part of this process. Now, you must lead your generation to reach great heights—you are the future innovators of this state and of this country. You have touched my heart, and I will stand by you every day.
What we fought for in this campaign matters. A woman’s access to her own healthcare. Fair pay for hard work. Security for the middle class. A strong public education for our young people. These are the resounding issues of my public service—and they resonated as we crisscrossed this state. We didn’t hide from our convictions. We stood strong and proud.
I have dedicated my entire life in pursuit of that ideal. My heart has always been with the everyday men and women who work the 9 to 5 to provide a better life for themselves and for their families. That’s why I’m proud to have waged this fight for our future with our working families, including the State Employee’s Association, standing by my side. These people make up the fabric of what has made this state great: service, leadership and advocacy.
I’m convinced that the old phrase holds truer today than ever before: North Carolina, where the weak grow strong, and the strong grow great. We have grown strong, hand in hand, together over the course of this campaign. Now, we move on to the greatness that the next journey has to offer.
I know that many are disappointed with the outcome of this election. Do not be. We ran this campaign with dignity and integrity. We touched lives and held strong to our values. This is not failure, but a new beginning. With our eyes fixed squarely on the future, we stand strong together on this day and find solace knowing that North Carolina’s best days are yet to come. We have the creativity, the innovation and the drive to deliver for this generation—if we come together to face our shared challenges.
My heart is full knowing that we are knitted together with our history, our values and most importantly: our future. What we did over this year matters. I know it. You know it. North Carolina knows it. We continue our work with renewed energy. We face the future undeterred. We forge ahead. We move forward.
Thank you, my friends. God bless you and God bless the great state of North Carolina.