Local News

Cobb Refuses To Concede State Ag Commissioner Race

Posted January 24, 2005

— Democrat Britt Cobb announced Monday that he is not giving up his post to be state agriculture commissioner without a fight.

Cobb said he wants a fair and lawful election and he will abide by whatever decision the state Board of Elections and the courts make. He said he will remain in office until the situation is resolved.

"We must -- all of us -- take a deep breath and give the Board of Elections and the courts time to decide what the law requires," he said.

Cobb was appointed interim Agriculture Commissioner two years ago after Meg Scott Phipps resigned amid scandal. In his bid to keep his job last fall, he found himself trailing Republican Steve Troxler by 2,300 votes.

After a voting machine malfunction lost more than 4,400 ballots in Carteret County, the State Board of Elections was forced to make a decision. It decided to invite those people to vote again, as well as anyone who did not vote previously in Carteret County.

When that was rejected by a Superior Court judge, the board called for a new statewide election, which, too, was overturned.

At one point, attorneys for Republican Steve Troxler presented the court with more than 1,300 affidavits signed by Carteret County voters who swore they voted for Troxler. At his press conference Monday, Cobb said it would set a bad precedent if the affidavits were accepted.

"We've seen a heavy-handed campaign to make people publicly reveal the choices they made in the privacy of the voting booth," he said.

Cobb said his preference is not having a new $3 million statewide election, but rather a new election in Carteret County paid for by the manufacturer of the faulty machine.

Troxler said he is disappointed about Cobb's decision.

"It's been nearly three months since the voting ended on Election Day. A Governor has been sworn into office. A President has been sworn into office. Every day that passes without a winner being declared in the Commissioner of Agriculture race is a slap in the face of the majority of the voters in North Carolina," said Troxler in a written statement.

"This election should not be about the State Board of Elections, the courts, or the legislature. It should be about the will of the people who voted. And we have proved that a majority of those voters supported my campaign."

Troxler's camp is moving forward with its court challenge. They are filing a motion Monday to order the State Board of Elections to hold a hearing, admit the affidavits as evidence and certify Troxler as the new Ag commissioner.

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