Charlotte, N.C. — Fresh off his victory 12 hours earlier, Gov.-elect Pat McCrory said Wednesday morning that he hopes to bring a customer-service approach to state government as he, his administration and the Republican legislature try to rebuild North Carolina's economy.
Flanked by key members of his campaign staff, McCrory sat down with reporters for his first news conference and quickly credited the entire team for his 55 to 43 percent victory over Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. The win makes him the first Republican governor in North Carolina in 20 years – and only the third in the past century.
The former Charlotte mayor said he plans to build similar teams in his administration to carry out the vision and strategies he will set for the state on issues from transportation to health care.
"Almost every successful thing I did during my tenure as mayor – 14 years – was a team effort," he said. "I don't like people to take all the credit. It will be a team (in Raleigh)."
Businesses will be part of the team approach on rebuilding the economy, he said, noting the private sector can offer solutions to some of the problems state government faces.
"We have a mandate to fix our broken government and to fix our economy, and we're going to do it together," he said. "I want to instill a culture of customer service and efficiency and ideas (in government)."
McCrory deflected questions on handling specific issues, saying he plans to name players in his transition to governor on Thursday and will delve more into his objectives then.
After losing to Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2008, consultants told McCrory he would have to "go negative" to win a gubernatorial election. He took pride Wednesday that his campaign "stuck to our guns" and waged a positive campaign successfully this time around.
"You can win with a positive message," he said, adding that the national political parties should take note of his victory. "A positive tone helps candidates."
McCrory isn't slowing down from his campaign schedule – "there's a sense of urgency because people are hurting out there," he said – and he plans to reach out quickly to legislative leaders on both the Republican and Democratic side. Although the GOP holds solid majorities in both the state House and Senate, he said building bipartisan consensus on issues is important.
"I don't want to make the mistake of any party, which is becoming arrogant with your power or your majorities," he said. "I think that's a huge mistake that both parties have made in the past, and I don't want that to occur in the future."
McCrory also plans to "pick the brains" of other Republican governors, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, as well as his North Carolina predecessors, former Govs. Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin.
Jindal and Haley have been seen as rising stars on the national GOP stage, but McCrory quickly dismissed a characterization of himself as a party "rock star."
"The country music acts have more long-term sustainability," he said with a laugh. "My total emphasis will be governing and leading North Carolina."