In the same state where Donald Trump won decisively, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory asked North Carolina election officials on Tuesday to recount ballots in his race against a Democratic challenger.
McCrory trails by more than 6,000 votes, and he has repeatedly alleged voter fraud since Election Day, challenging at least one hundred ballots in 52 counties. A statement from his campaign Tuesday said a request for a statewide recount was filed to "protect the voters of North Carolina."
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina GOP, told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, "From a party standpoint, we're very glad about this. We wanted this all along. Again, a lot of our people are suspicious...but the only way to give the eventual winner the aura of legitimacy was to do this."
The campaign for opponent Roy Cooper, who is currently the state attorney general, argued that Republicans are grasping at straws and have been rebuffed by at least eight country election boards that dismissed fraud allegations.
"Governor McCrory has no legitimate path to victory, so he has resorted to attacking legitimate North Carolina voters in a shameful attempt to delay the process and undermine the results of an election he lost," Ford Porter, a spokesperson for Cooper's campaign, told BuzzFeed News.
"Roy Cooper is our Governor-Elect and Governor McCrory should respect the will of voters and concede," he added.
All year, the two fought over a law to restrict transgender people's access to restrooms — McCrory was an ardent supporter, while Cooper said it was discriminatory. LGBT activists converged from around the US to help get out the vote for Cooper and Hillary Clinton.
Cooper's campaign has dispatched its own election observers in every county in the state and says the Democrat now leads by 8,569 votes.
Election workers are still counting absentee, overseas, and military ballots. Candidates are automatically eligible for a recount when the final spread is fewer than 10,000 votes. But state officials have the right to conduct a recount — at their discretion — if the spread is more than 10,000 votes.
McCrory's campaign said in a statement on Tuesday that “with many outstanding votes yet to be counted for the first time, legal challenges, ballot protests and voter fraud allegations, we must keep open the ability to allow the established recount process to ensure every legal vote is counted properly."
But McCrory's challenges thus far have yielded little. His campaign promoted allegations of fraud in Halifax County, but the News & Observer reported last week that the board tossed out the complaint, finding "no probable cause."
McCrory's campaign did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News about how many ballots had been found fraudulent or illegal by an election board.
Woodhouse dismissed calls this week for McCrory to concede. "There's nothing to concede to!" he said. "The state has not told me what the final vote count is. Now look, of course you'd rather be the guy who's be in the lead. But nothing that McCrory or the Republican Party has done has slowed the process one inch."
"You don't declare the winner of the World Series at the 7th inning," he added. "You don't."
But Cooper started assembling a transition team on Monday to take over the governor's mansion. Marc Elias, a lawyer for Cooper, said it is "beyond unlikely" McCrory could prevail in a recount.