The first loss is always the most difficult, Mr. Mayor

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory should hold his head high when he looks back at his first try for higher office.

He did not win his bid to be the governor of North Carolina, and that's a disappointment. He did not banish the so-called Charlotte curse. Yet he ran a strong campaign with a clear, consistent message. His tight contest with Eastern Democrat Bev Perdue showed that a Republican urban mayor can garner substantial support even in rural corners – and even in the face of a Democratic tsunami.

Perdue won Tuesday by a 50 percent to 47 percent margin to become the first female governor of North Carolina. She won both urban and rural counties, something of a surprise, since McCrory, a seven-term mayor, targeted the state's populous urban corridors. He focused his campaign on reforming transportation and fighting crime.

That was a valuable foray. His candidacy put the distinct concerns of North Carolina's urban areas in the spotlight. It gave them a prominence in the political arena they did not have.

McCrory is knowledgeable on those issues. That showed. He presented a serious, smart face that represented Charlotte well to other parts of the state – a fact that surprised observers who have at times winced as petulance or provincialism overtook his judgment.

McCrory has never lost an election before. He has not said what he might do next, or whether he plans another run for office. He has a year remaining in his current mayoral term.

Here's what we would say to him at this juncture: Shake it off, Mr. Mayor, and take some time. You ran a passionate, ambitious campaign that broadened your world and your political acumen. Focus on what the growth from that experience means. It can serve your city well – and serve you well whatever your next step might be.