Josh Stein, the state’s Democratic attorney general, saw his lead widen Friday over his Republican challenger, Jim O’Neill, Forsyth County’s elected district attorney.
Several counties were still busy certifying mail-in absentee ballots and provisional ballots, but Stein was leading by 14,337 votes late in the evening. On Election Day, Stein had about a 10,000-vote lead over O’Neill.
Even though the race remained close, it didn’t appear close enough for O’Neill to be able to request a recount. In order for that to happen, a candidate has to be trailing by no more 0.5 percent of the total votes cast or no more than 10,000 votes, whichever is less.
Stein had not declared victory yet, and O’Neill did not immediately have a statement on Friday.
Stein, a former state senator who had served as an assistant attorney general under then-Attorney General Roy Cooper, was running for his second term. O’Neill has been the district attorney since 2009, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue to serve out the rest of Tom Keith’s term when Keith retired.
This is O’Neill’s second time running for the state’s top prosecutor position. He ran in 2016 but lost in the Republican primary to Buck Newton. Newton lost to Stein in the general election.
During the campaign, O’Neill had cast himself as a law-and-order prosecutor who had won the support of law-enforcement officers and alleged that Stein turned his back on law-enforcement at a time in which there have been increasing protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Stein has said he supports law-enforcement officers but also wants to see criminal justice reform.