On his first day as North Carolinas governor-elect, Republican Pat McCrory pledged to reach out to legislative leaders, move quickly to form an administration and bring a customer service culture to state government.
McCrory plans to detail his transition plan Thursday afternoon in Raleigh, after meeting with outgoing Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.
Theres not a lot of days to move so were going to move very quickly, McCrory told reporters in Charlotte on Wednesday. Theres a sense of urgency.
The former Charlotte mayor wont take office until January. But he turned to his new job a day after defeating Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton by 12 percentage points and carrying 77 of the states 100 counties, including traditionally Democratic strongholds in eastern North Carolina.
Hell take office as the first Republican governor in 20 years and the first in modern history to govern with a Republican-led General Assembly, which itself changed dramatically on Tuesday.
The GOP boosted its legislative majorities as House Republicans picked up nine seats in unofficial returns for a 77-43 majority. Senate Republicans gained one seat for a 32-18 advantage.
Mecklenburg County voters helped boost those numbers.
Meck adds to GOP haul
Republicans Charles Jeter of Huntersville and Jeff Tarte of Cornelius won new House and Senate seats respectively. Charlottean Rob Bryan ousted longtime Democratic Rep. Martha Alexander.
Meanwhile, legislative Democrats, once dominated by white lawmakers from rural areas, now find themselves dominated by African-Americans and urban liberals.
Black members account for 22 of 43 House Democrats and half of the Senates 18 Democrats.
It changes the face of the Democratic Party in terms of its elected officials in the legislature, said Jonathan Kappler, research director at the N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation.
McCrorys senior strategist, Jack Hawke, a top adviser to the states two most recent Republican governors, touted what he called McCrorys singular achievement.
Former Republican Govs. Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin, he noted, won in Republican landslides headed by Richard Nixon in 1972 (Holshouser) and Ronald Reagan (Martin) in 1984. Even though Republican Mitt Romney carried North Carolina while losing the presidential race, McCrory outpolled him in the state.
GOP revels in rock star
Hawke also recalled walking down a Charlotte street with McCrory in 2008, during the former mayors first gubernatorial campaign, and hearing one person after another greet Mayor Pat.
He was a rock star, Hawke said. And I think it will translate into how he governs the state.
McCrory got a dose of national media attention Wednesday. He was interviewed on MSNBCs The Daily Rundown. Asked how he won after losing in 2008, he told host Chuck Todd that he ran a positive campaign and built on his last one.
I think I brought a mayors attitude to the governors race, he said. I had more time to build a relationship with people in rural areas They saw what I did as mayor and they realized maybe they can use the same type of leadership throughout the state.
Later, McCrory inadvertently offered a glimpse of the learning curve facing him.
He announced that Thursdays Raleigh news conference would be in the states Alamance Building. Hawke gently corrected him: Its the Albemarle Building.
See, Im from outside, McCrory said.