North Carolina primary voters handed Gov. Pat McCrory a decisive victory Tuesday after overwhelmingly approving a bond measure that will pour $2 billion into universities and other statewide projects.
With virtually all precincts reporting, unofficial elections data showed North Carolina voters backed the bond by an almost two-to-one margin with 1.38 million in favor, or 65 percent, to 727,000 saying no, or 35 percent.
Addressing a crowd earlier in the evening, McCrory attributed the win to a collaborative effort with partners from all sides of the political spectrum.
More coverage of bond issue:
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- What funding means for state’s life science sector
- A look at funding’s impact on universities
“While the rest of the nation is going through a lot of political divide as we see tonight, I wanted to just let you know that North Carolina can be a role model for how we ran this bond campaign,” McCrory said. “We did it together as a team.”
Unlike many referendum projects, the so-called Connect NC bond won’t fund any transportation measures, focusing its allocations for new college buildings and repairs as well as state park upgrades and regional National Guard training centers. The bipartisan measure was heavily promoted by McCrory and his cabinet agencies and was backed by $2 million in campaign donations from university foundations, engineering firms and several corporations.
“I am so grateful to North Carolina’s voters for supporting higher education in such a wonderful way,” Carol Folt, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a statement. “It is a strong endorsement for the importance of having the very best facilities at Carolina to train more North Carolina doctors for our state.”
In a release Tuesday night, McCrory said the bond package will benefit future generations and was a sign that both sides of the aisle could come together.
Bob Orr, a retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice who ran the bond campaign, echoed McCrory’s praise.
“It’s a great day for North Carolina,” Orr told WRAL News.
Bond backers have emphasized the measure won’t mean higher taxes, pointing to studies showing the state has the debt capacity to pay back the money over time.
“Through years of staunch fiscal responsibility, this state is in a unique position post-recession,” Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, said in a statement. “It is time to make some sound investments in this state and preserve our infrastructure and resources.”
The bond had drawn limited criticism from conservative groups, who say the measure is too expensive and will be directed toward frivolous projects.