Roy Cooper

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For other people named Roy Cooper, see Roy Cooper (disambiguation).
Roy Cooper
Gov. Roy Cooper.jpg
75th Governor of North Carolina
Assumed office
January 1, 2017
Lieutenant Dan Forest
Preceded by Pat McCrory
49th Attorney General of North Carolina
In office
January 1, 2001 – January 1, 2017
Governor Mike Easley
Bev Perdue
Pat McCrory
Preceded by Mike Easley
Succeeded by Josh Stein
Member of the North Carolina Senate
In office
Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Roy Asberry Cooper III
(1957-06-13) June 13, 1957 (age 59)
Nashville, North Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kristin Cooper
Children 3
Residence Executive Mansion
Education University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill
(BA, JD)
Website Government website

Roy Asberry Cooper III (born June 13, 1957)[1] is an American politician and attorney who is the 75th and current Governor of North Carolina, since January 2017. Prior to his governorship, Cooper had served as the Attorney General of North Carolina from 2001 to 2017 and was previously a member of the North Carolina State Senate. Cooper is a member of the North Carolina Democratic Party, and ran for Governor of North Carolina in the 2016 election against Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.[2] On December 5, McCrory conceded the election, making Cooper the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor in North Carolina since 1850. [3] Cooper took office as the 75th governor of North Carolina on January 1, 2017. A ceremonial inauguration was scheduled for January 7, 2017[4] but was postponed due to winter weather.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Cooper was born in Nash County, North Carolina, the son of Beverly Thorne Batchelor, a school teacher, and Roy Asberry Cooper, Jr.[6][7] He was raised in a rural community and worked in tobacco fields during the summer as a teenager. He received the Morehead Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving as the president of the university's Young Democrats,[8] and then also earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from UNC.

State legislature[edit]

After practicing law with his family's law firm for a number of years, Cooper was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1986 and named to the North Carolina Senate in 1991. In 1997, he was elected Democratic Majority Leader of the state Senate. He continued to practice law as the managing partner of the law firm Fields & Cooper in Rocky Mount and Nashville, North Carolina.

North Carolina Attorney General[edit]


Cooper was elected North Carolina Attorney General in November 2000 and took office on January 6, 2001; he was re-elected for a second term in 2004. Cooper was mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for North Carolina governor in 2008, but he decided to run for re-election as Attorney General instead.[9] He was easily re-elected, garnering more votes than any other statewide candidate in the November 2008 elections.[10] Both state and national Democrats attempted to recruit him to run against Republican Senator Richard Burr in 2010, but he declined.[11] He was speculated as a possible candidate for Governor of North Carolina in 2012 after incumbent Governor Bev Perdue announced her retirement, but Cooper declined to run.[12] His political consultant announced in 2011 that Cooper would seek a fourth term in 2012.[13] He was unopposed in both the Democratic primary and the general election.[14] In the November 2012 elections, Cooper received 2,828,941 votes.


Roy Cooper in 2009

In January 2007, when Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong asked to be recused from dealing with the Duke lacrosse case, Attorney General Cooper's office assumed responsibility for the case. On April 11, 2007, Cooper dismissed the case against the Duke lacrosse team players, declaring them "innocent" and victims of a "tragic rush to accuse".

Following a decision by a three-judge panel to exonerate Gregor Taylor, who had served nearly seventeen years for the first-degree murder of Jaquetta Thomas, Roy Cooper ordered an audit after it was uncovered that officials at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation forensic lab withheld information leading to his conviction. The audit found that it was common practice for a select group of officials within the State Bureau of Investigation to withhold information. The two investigators, Chris Swecker and Micheal Fox, cited almost two hundred and fifty separate cases that were mishandled.

Cooper argued his first case before the United States Supreme Court, J. D. B. v. North Carolina, in 2011.[15][16] The Court ruled 5–4 against North Carolina.[17]

Governor of North Carolina[edit]



Roy Cooper for Governor logo

Cooper ran for Governor of North Carolina in the 2016 election against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.[2]

The election was extremely close. After an extended legal battle, McCrory conceded the election to Cooper on December 5.[18]


Cooper's transition into the governorship was marked by tensions with the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly.[19] In what The New York Times described as a "surprise special session", Republican legislators moved to strip away Cooper's powers before he would assume the governorship on January 1, 2017.[20] Throughout the month of December, Cooper oversaw an attempt at repealing the controversial Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (commonly known as "House Bill 2", "HB2", or simply, the "bathroom bill"). The repeal attempt failed as a deal between state Republican and Democratic lawmakers and Charlotte officials fell apart.[21]


As of January 6, 2017, Cooper has requested federal approval for Medicaid coverage expansion in North Carolina.[22] Effective January 15, however, a federal judge halted Cooper's request, an order that expired on January 29.[23]


Cooper's first veto as governor was of a bill that would make elections to the North Carolina Superior Court and to the District Court partisan again, after being conducted on a nonpartisan basis for many years.[24] The state House voted to override the veto on March 22, 2017.[25] The state Senate followed suit on March 23, meaning that the bill became law over the Governor's objections.[26]

Electoral history[edit]

North Carolina attorneyship general election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roy Cooper 1,446,793 51.21
Republican Dan Boyce 1,310,845 46.40
Reform Margaret Palms 67,536 2.39
Total votes 2,825,174 100.00
North Carolina attorneyship general election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roy Cooper (inc.) 1,872,097 55.61
Republican Joe Knott 1,494,121 44.39
Total votes 3,366,218 100.00
North Carolina attorneyship general election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roy Cooper (inc.) 2,538,178 61.10
Republican Bob Crumley 1,615,762 38.90
Total votes 4,153,940 100.00
North Carolina attorneyship general election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roy Cooper (inc.) 2,828,941 100.00
Total votes 2,828,941 100.00
North Carolina gubernatorial primary, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roy Cooper 710,658 68.70
Democratic Ken Spaulding 323,774 31.30
Total votes 1,034,432 100.00
North Carolina gubernatorial election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Roy Cooper 2,309,162 49.02 +5.79%
Republican Pat McCrory 2,298,881 48.80 -5.82%
Libertarian Lon Cecil 102,978 2.19 +0.06%
Margin of victory 10,281 0.22 -7.92%
Turnout 4,711,021 68.98 +1.68%
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "Richard D. Hearney - Google Search". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Attorney General Announces Candidacy For Governor". Charlotte Observer. November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ Dalesio, Emery. "North Carolina Gov. McCrory Concedes He Lost Re-Election Bid". ABC News. 
  4. ^ Robertson, Gary D. (January 1, 2017). "North Carolina governor takes office minutes into new year". News & Observer. Associated Press. Retrieved January 1, 2017. 
  5. ^ Campbell, Colin (January 5, 2017). "Snowy forecast cancels Cooper's inauguration, but he'll still make speech on TV". News & Observer. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Roy Cooper's mother dies". 
  8. ^ Camp, Jon (October 12, 2015). "Attorney general primed to begin run for NC governor". ABC11 Raleigh-Durham. 
  9. ^ Andrea Weigl. " Cooper says he won't run for governor". Retrieved June 22, 2008. 
  10. ^ "News & Observer: Roy Cooper, N.C.'s most popular Democrat". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ Charlotte Observer: AG Roy Cooper says no to Senate race
  12. ^ WRAL. "Perdue will not seek re-election". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ "News & Observer: Holding may seek attorney general's office". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Daily Reflector". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Supreme Court site". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ "News & Observer: Court questions N.C.'s position on Miranda warning". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  17. ^ "News & Observer: High court rules against NC in juvenile Miranda rights". Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ "North Carolina Gov. McCrory concedes he lost re-election bid". Fox News. December 5, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  19. ^ Fausset, Richard; Gabriel, Trip (2016-12-15). "North Carolina's Partisan Rift Widens in Fight Over Governor's Powers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  20. ^ Gabriel, Trip (2016-12-14). "North Carolina G.O.P. Moves to Curb Power of New Democratic Governor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  21. ^ Graham, David A. "How Did North Carolina's Deal to Repeal H.B. 2 Fall Apart?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-01-02. 
  22. ^ "NC Gov. Cooper: Governor Cooper Tells Washington that North Carolina Will Seek to Expand Medicaid". Retrieved 2017-01-07. 
  23. ^ Donovan, Evan. "Gov. Cooper's Medicaid expansion temporarily blocked". WLOS. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  24. ^ Governor Cooper Signs Veto of House Bill 100
  25. ^ House votes to override Cooper veto of partisan judicial elections bill
  26. ^ NC Policy Watch

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mike Easley
Democratic nominee for Attorney General of North Carolina
2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
Succeeded by
Josh Stein
Preceded by
Walter Dalton
Democratic nominee for Governor of North Carolina
Most recent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Mike Easley
Attorney General of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Josh Stein
Political offices
Preceded by
Pat McCrory
Governor of North Carolina
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within North Carolina
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Andrew Cuomo
as Governor of New York
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside North Carolina
Succeeded by
Gina Raimondo
as Governor of Rhode Island