Raleigh, N.C. — Attorney General Roy Cooper's gubernatorial campaign raised $5.12 million over the past four months, outpacing Gov. Pat McCrory's fundraising take by $1.9 million and building on a lead he established early in 2015.
Cooper, a Democrat, hopes to unseat McCrory, a Republican, in this fall's gubernatorial election and reports having $9.4 million cash on hand at the beginning of July.
"An unprecedented number of North Carolinians are fed up with Governor McCrory’s partisan political agenda, and voters are ready for a leader who will put the interests of all North Carolinians first," Jamal Little, Cooper's campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
McCrory had $6.3 million cash on hand at the beginning of July, putting him $3.1 million behind Cooper as the campaign enters its last four months. Asked about Cooper's fundraising lead, McCrory brushed it off.
"Well, wow, I guess we know what he's been doing now instead of his job," McCrory told reporters Tuesday after a economic development announcement in Cary. "He's obviously had a lot of time to raise money, while I've been finding money to give historic pay raises to teachers."
McCrory and Cooper have clashed over a number of policy issues, such as the recently enacted body camera bill. But no policy has divided them more than House Bill 2, the controversial measure dealing with LGBT rights and the ability of transgender people to use the public bathroom of their choice.
McCrory has defended the measure, while Cooper has criticized it and refused to defend it in court.
"House Bill 2 was a bad law that was born in a shroud of secrecy," Cooper said Tuesday morning before fundraising numbers were announced.
Cooper has said previously that he chose to defend nondiscrimination policies in his office and the Office of the State Treasurer rather than use his resources to defend House Bill 2. This has prompted McCrory and his campaign to criticize Cooper for not carrying out his responsibility to defend the state.
"Roy Cooper has obviously found a lot of time to raise money instead of doing his job, which we asked him to do," McCrory said.
Cooper has already deployed his fundraising advantage, using it to put the first candidate ads of the general election campaign on television. McCrory has not yet aired ads, but Renew NC, a 501(c)(4) group aligned with the governor, has aired ads praising McCrory's work.
McCrory said that, despite lagging Cooper in fundraising, he feels confident about the fall campaign.
"Oh, we're going to do just fine. We've got sufficient money to get our message out and build upon the successes we're having in both teacher pay raises and job creation here in North Carolina," McCrory said. "I think we've got the best candidate."