By Julie Rose
Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory captured more than two-thirds of the vote to win last night's Republican primary for Governor. WFAE's Julie Rose reports the McCrory campaign treated last night's victory as a kick-off for the real fight.
With a nearly 70 point lead in the polls, Pat McCrory did not need to spend his lunch hour on primary election day shaking hands and posing for pictures with south Charlotte voters. But McCrory had his eye on November as much as anything and he was encouraged to meet Scott Whitman.
"I'm crossing the line only for you," Whitman told McCrory.
"That means a lot," McCrory replied.
Whitman says he never votes for Republicans, but he's making an exception for McCrory.
"(He) will bring money to Charlotte as a governor and he's the known sum," says Whitman. "We've seen him as a mayor. He can work with Democrats."
McCrory says he needs independent-minded voters like Whitman to avoid a repeat of 2008. Back then McCrory found himself giving the first concession speech of his political career. Let that sink in for a minute. Never - in nearly two-decades as either a city councilman or mayor of Charlotte - had McCrory lost an election, until Perdue beat him by 3 percentage points.
McCrory's supporters believe things are different this time around. People are fed up with the state's ongoing economic woes, says Republican and former Charlotte City Councilman John Lassiter.
"I think everyone expected there to be improvement (in the economy) by the time we got to today, and there hasn't been," says Lassiter.
He notes that McCrory's had four years to travel the state getting his name out and his campaign's got $3 million on hand.
"He's raised money," says McCrory. "He hasn't had a real difficult primary and that's allowed him to kind of stay on message."
McCrory's message is simple: "I wanna fix our broken economy. I wanna fix our broken government. And I wanna fix our broken education system."
McCrory and his supporters believe the biggest threat to their success in November will be the time and money the Obama campaign spends in North Carolina mobilizing Democratic voters.
Then again, McCrory's got access to some deep pockets too.
"I just received a call from Governor Mitt Romney - another victor in North Carolina and we have committed to work together to make NC a red state in 2012," McCrory told supporters during his acceptance speech.
If he succeeds, McCrory would be the first Republican elected North Carolina governor in 20 years.