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Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper Wins Second Term in North Carolina, but Hopes of ‘Trifecta’ Fade

By Kevin Mahnken | November 3, 2020

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (Getty Images)

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest to secure a second term. With 91 percent of the expected vote reported, Politico declared that the incumbent had won with a 5 percent margin.

The race was originally expected to be a marquee contest, as North Carolina is one of just a handful of swing states to hold gubernatorial elections during presidential cycles. But Cooper’s aggressive and well-regarded response to the COVID-19 crisis drove his approval ratings upward over the summer, and late-breaking polls in the state suggested that he held a healthy lead.

A reelection win could allow the governor to make a second push on behalf of his own education priorities, many of which — including a large pay raise for teachers and expanded access to early college and childcare programs — stalled in the face of Republican opposition in the General Assembly. On a separate track, Cooper’s administration also launched NC Job Ready, an initiative to boost workforce capacity and prepare K-12 students for the jobs of the future.

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Democrats had hoped to capture either the state House or Senate, and possibly both, but as Election Night stretched into Wednesday, that prospect looked doubtful. Even expanded Democratic minorities in the legislature might give Cooper room to negotiate for more revenue to boost school funding in the wake of the severe financial crunch inflicted by COVID-19.

In 2018, The 74 spoke on camera with Cooper about his education agenda.

2020’s KEY EDUCATION VOTES: See our full coverage of the 46 races that could reshape America’s schools following Election Day — and get the latest updates on state policies and students’ challenges during the pandemic by signing up for The 74 Newsletter

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