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RALEIGH, North Carolina, November 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A November push by social conservative and pro-life groups and some good economic news brought incumbent North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory within a few hundred votes of Democratic Roy Cooper in a finish so close that a winner won’t be declared till November 18.

At times during the election night Tuesday it appeared that McCrory could come back from the pressure brought against him by major corporations and smear campaigns from LGBT groups and Planned Parenthood in a campaign largely fought over the controversial House Bill 2 or “the bathroom bill” McCrory signed earlier this year.

“The governor’s economic record has been so good that [Democratic opponent] Roy Cooper didn’t have any other issue to fight him on,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition.  “It would have been a sad day in America when a sitting governor who has presided over the biggest economic comeback  in a state in recent history can lose a campaign over organizations coming into a state and lying about an issue like HB2.”

At 12:30 p.m. EST, with a dozen precincts still to report, the popular vote totalled 2,276,384 for Cooper and 2,272,703 for McCrory. Now “provisional ballots”—absentee and military votes—must be counted.

According to Fitzgerald, the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign claimed that HB2 was an attack on LGBT “rights,” getting major corporations to condemn it and a tiny minority of them to boycott the state. They managed to convince many North Carolinians and virtually all the state’s major news media that the bill was causing an economic disaster. Chris Sgro of Equality NC put the loss at $500 million, a claim that the research organization Politifact rated as completely false, putting the likely fallout at under 1 per cent of the state’s booming economy.

A Reuters Ipsos poll earlier in October showed 38 percent of voters said the HB2 Bill and its fallout made them less likely to vote for McCrory’s re-election, while 32 percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

“But when you polled people on the underlying issue–do you want women and girls to have to share bathrooms and locker rooms with men claiming to be women?—then 70 percent say no,” Fitzgerald told LifeSiteNews.

HB2 did two things: It kept washrooms under state authority segregated by gender; and it prevented municipalities from passing ordinances that let LGBT individuals bring discrimination complaints against those who refused service for religious reasons.

Fitzgerald reported that Bill HB2 was a response to a typical case of LGBT overreach. “The Human Rights Campaign came in and got a mayor and three councillors elected in Charlotte last November who promptly passed such an ordinance, even though the governor warned them not to,” said Fitzgerald.

Governor McCrory fought for HB2, which passed both state houses along partisan lines –with many Democrats abstaining because the bill was initially so popular. But then the Human Rights Campaign went to work: it quickly accumulated a list of major corporations such as Paypal and Deutsche Bank to condemn the state, got other states to prohibit its officials from travelling there, sports organizations to move playoffs or all-star games elsewhere, and Bruce Springsteen to cancel a concert.

In public HRC President Chad Griffin declared, “These businesses understand that discrimination is bad for North Carolina, and will continue to speak out until Governor McCrory and the General Assembly repeal this heinous attack on basic human dignity.”

In a private meeting with McCrory, Griffin reportedly told the governor he would bring the state to its knees unless he capitulated and apologized.

Instead, reports Fitzgerald, the governor stuck to his moral guns and continued to encourage economic growth by reducing personal and corporate income taxes, making the state’s economic showing nearly the best in the country.

But McCrory went into the election trailing Cooper, the state’s current attorney general who has refused to enforce HB2 as well as other pro-family, pro-marriage legislation, by six points. By a week before the election, the governor had recovered enough to make the final result uncallable.

Fitzgerald’s group did its best to even the odds with two short videos it promoted on TV and social media, one called “Chloe” featuring a real high school girl declaring that she was embarrassed enough undressing in front of her female classmates, and certainly didn’t want to do so in front of men.

The second, “Roy Cooper’s Bathroom Plan,” shows a man invading a young girl’s bathroom stall.

Both Griffin and Fitzgerald believe the outcome in North Carolina will affect the whole country. Griffin told Reuters before the vote, “I believe a strong message already has been sent to lawmakers across the country. I believe and hope on Election Day that an even stronger message will be sent.”

Said Fitzgerald, “Politicians are human. If the HRC and major corporations succeed in bullying North Carolina’s voters, then governors and legislators in other states will be less likely to stand up for religious freedom.”