RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Gov. Roy Cooper has defeated Republican challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and will be re-elected in the race for governor for North Carolina.

In a statement following his victory speech, Cooper’s campaign released a statement proclaiming that North Carolinians “trust Roy Cooper to put them first”.

“Tonight’s decisive victory sends the message loud and clear — North Carolinians trust Roy Cooper to put them first,” the statement reads.

According to Cooper’s campaign, the victory means that North Carolinians want to expand Medicaid, boost public education and keep health and safety first during the pandemic.

“North Carolinians rejected Dan Forest’s campaign of fear and division and dangerous lies and opted instead for steady, decisive, and compassionate leadership,” the statement continues.

Cooper comfortably led his Republican opponent, Forest, during most polls throughout the election season.

The mild-mannered governor has often been reluctant to criticize President Donald Trump. He has been generally praised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, some complained he was slow to reopen K-12 public schools and certain parts of the economy. Forest often criticized the shuttering of small businesses, including bars, bowling alleys and gyms.

Cooper was banking on the support of voters who approved of his handling of the coronavirus, while Forest aimed to appeal to business owners and K-12 public school parents dissatisfied with the state’s slow reopening.

The race between Cooper and Forest has attracted attention from outside groups, which have spent millions to shape voter attitudes.

Cooper entered the final weeks of his reelection campaign having significantly outraised his opponent.

Forest took in nearly $4 million from July 1 to Oct. 17. Cooper received more than $17 million during that time.

The bulk of contributions to Forest came from individual donors.

Cooper got most of his money from outside political groups.

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