RALEIGH, N.C., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Democrat Roy Cooper told supporters in his victory speech as North Carolina governor-elect that he wants to repeal House Bill 2, which restricted bathrooms and changing rooms in schools and government buildings in the state to a single sex.
Activists had called the bill, passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in March 2016, the most anti-LGBT legislation in the country, as it prohibited transgender people from using bathrooms that don't correspond with their biological gender.
Cooper, 59, declared victory Tuesday, one day after McCrory conceded the close race that included ballot protests and a recount in Durham. Cooper won by 10,293 votes out of 4.7 million votes cast, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
"With this election, North Carolina is on its way to repairing its reputation," Cooper said to about 650 supporters. "Let's finish the job and repeal HB2."
"I want North Carolina to be one of the most admired states in this country," Cooper said.
He said he will "fight all kinds of discrimination."
Cooper will need the backing of the Republican-controlled House and Senate to repeal HB2, however.
"He's got the power of the bully pulpit being governor, but he's not as comfortable with it" as previous governors, Meredith College political scientist David McLennan told the News & Observer. "That may be his biggest tool to push back on the General Assembly – trying to rally public opinion as he did on HB2."
The NBA pulled its All-Star game from Charlotte in 2017 and the NCAA moved events from the state, including two rounds of the Division I men's basketball tournament and the Division I women's soccer Final Four.
House Bill 2, which has become known as the "bathroom bill," requires transgender citizens to use public bathrooms marked with the gender they were born with instead of that with which they otherwise identify.
During his 15-minute speech, Cooper said: "I want to make sure North Carolinians are healthy, physical and mentally, that law enforcement is strong and fair, that women and their rights are respected, that voting is easier, that local governments have more freedom to shape their own policies and that middle-class taxpayers and small businesses are the ones who get the breaks."
That includes pay raises. "I want to make sure educators and state employees are properly paid," Cooper said. "I will fight for those workers whose expenses are growing but their incomes are not."
Cooper, who has been the state's attorney general since 2001, was joined on stage by his successor, Josh Stein.