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Lieutenant governor candidate abandons recount bid

RALEIGH (AP) — The trailing Democratic Party candidate for lieutenant governor said Monday she won’t seek a statewide recount, admitting that a new tally was unlikely to make up the nearly 6,900 votes she needs. And it would cost North Carolina’s 100 counties at least $1.5 million to recount.

“We face the reality that an extended battle would not alter the outcome of this race,” Linda Coleman said at a news conference after conceding the outcome to Republican Dan Forest. “It was a hard-fought, spirited campaign and we have stark differences. But in the end, in a tight race, North Carolinians have chosen Mr. Forest as their next lieutenant governor.”

Coleman had until Tuesday to demand a recount because her margin with Forest was less than 10,000 votes out of almost 4.4 million cast. Forest’s campaign offered no immediate response.

Forest is a first-time candidate, Raleigh architect and the son of retiring U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick of Charlotte, who leaned on his party’s tea party and evangelical blocs. Coleman was a state worker for more than 30 years. Most recently she was Gov. Beverly Perdue’s state personnel director before stepping down to run for the state’s No. 2 office.

Forest had declared himself the winner, but the vote count was neither final nor official.

On Monday, the state elections board reported Coleman as having 551 fewer votes than Saturday, when all counties reported their totals. The difference was mostly the result of state elections officials catching a counting mistake in Bertie County, state elections board executive director Gary Bartlett said. That made the difference in the race 6,858.

A statewide recount would have cost between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, with counties picking up the tab, Bartlett said.

Less-extensive recounts are still possible.

State Sen. David Rouzer, who trails incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre by 655 votes in the 7th Congressional District race, did not respond to messages about whether he will seek a recount. The State Board of Election hadn’t heard from Rouzer either, deputy director Johnnie McLean said.

State Sen. Stan White, D-Dare, also could seek a recount after seeing his election-night lead evaporate. He now trails Republican Bill Cook, an outgoing first-term House member from Beaufort County, by 32 votes. White was appointed in early 2011 to fill the seat of the retiring Marc Basnight, D-Dare, who was Senate leader for a record 18 years.

Coleman had threatened lawsuits over her view that at least 3,000 votes should be counted though voters’ names failed to show up on local rolls and that the state should allow same-day registration on Election Day. Those won’t be filed.

Coleman’s campaign raised about $25,000 and collected another $80,000 in a legal fund since Election Day, spokesman Micah Beasley said. He deflected a question about whether that would have been enough for Coleman to pursue her challenges.

“I don’t think the money factor was an issue with her in making this decision,” Beasley said. “We just were faced with the reality of the numbers and that it’s hard to flip 6,000 votes in an extended recount battle. She doesn’t want to put the people of North Carolina and the state board of election employees through that.”

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