Roy Asberry Cooper III (born June 13, 1957) is an American politician and attorney serving as the 75th and current Governor of North Carolina since 2017. Prior to his governorship, Cooper had served as the elected Attorney General of North Carolina from 2001. Before that, he served in the General Assembly in both the North Carolina House of Representatives and the North Carolina Senate. Cooper is a member of the Democratic Party.
He narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Pat McCrory for the governorship in the 2016 election. On December 5, McCrory conceded the election, making Cooper the first challenger since 1850 to defeat a sitting governor in North Carolina. Cooper took office as the 75th Governor of North Carolina on January 1, 2017.
The Republican-dominated legislature passed bills in a special session before he took office to reduce the power of the governor. The legislature has overridden several of his vetoes of legislation.
|75th Governor of North Carolina|
January 1, 2017
|Preceded by||Pat McCrory|
|49th Attorney General of North Carolina|
January 1, 2001 – January 1, 2017
|Preceded by||Mike Easley|
|Succeeded by||Josh Stein|
|Member of the North Carolina Senate|
|Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives|
|Born||Roy Asberry Cooper III
June 13, 1957
Nashville, North Carolina
|Education||University of North Carolina,
Chapel Hill (BA, JD)
Cooper was born in Nash County, North Carolina, the son of Beverly Thorne Batchelor, a school teacher, and Roy Asberry Cooper, Jr. He was raised in a rural community and worked in tobacco fields during the summer as a teenager. He received the Morehead Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his undergraduate studies. He was elected as the president of the university's Young Democrats. He also earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
After practicing law with his family's law firm for a number of years, Cooper was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1986. He was appointed to the North Carolina Senate in 1991 to fill a remaining term of a seat that was vacated. In 1997, he was elected as Democratic Majority Leader of the state Senate. He continued to practice law as the managing partner of the law firm Fields & Cooper in Rocky Mount and Nashville, North Carolina.
Cooper was elected North Carolina Attorney General in November 2000 and took office on January 6, 2001; he was re-elected for a second four-year term in 2004. Cooper was mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for North Carolina governor in 2008, but he decided to run for re-election as Attorney General instead. He was easily re-elected, garnering more votes than any other statewide candidate in the November 2008 elections.
Both state and national Democrats attempted to recruit him to run against Republican US Senator Richard Burr in 2010, but he declined. In 2012 politicians suggested him as a possible candidate for Governor of North Carolina after incumbent Governor Bev Perdue announced her retirement, but Cooper declined to run. His political consultant announced in 2011 that Cooper would seek a fourth term in 2012. He was unopposed in both the Democratic primary and the general election. In the November 2012 elections, Cooper received 2,828,941 votes.
In January 2007, when Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong asked to be recused from dealing with the Duke lacrosse case, Attorney General Cooper's office assumed responsibility for the case. On April 11, 2007, Cooper dismissed the case against the Duke lacrosse team players, declaring them "innocent" and victims of a "tragic rush to accuse".
Following a decision in 2010 by a three-judge panel to exonerate Gregor Taylor, who had served nearly seventeen years for the first-degree murder of Jaquetta Thomas, Cooper ordered an audit after it was learned that officials at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation forensic lab had withheld information. This suppression of evidence had contributed to Taylor's conviction for murder. The audit was released in 2010; it found that it had been common practice for two decades for a select group of agents within the State Bureau of Investigation to withhold information. In addition, they did not keep up with scientific standards and the latest tests. The two investigators, Chris Swecker and Micheal Fox, cited almost 230 cases that were tainted by these actions. Three persons convicted in such cases had been executed; 80 defendants convicted were still serving time in prison. A massive state effort was undertaken to follow up on their cases.
Cooper argued his first case before the United States Supreme Court, J. D. B. v. North Carolina, in 2011, a case related to Miranda rights in juvenile cases. The Court ruled 5–4 against North Carolina.
The election was extremely close. After an extended legal battle, McCrory conceded the election to Cooper on December 5.
Dismayed by Cooper's win, the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly passed special legislation before he was inaugurated to reduce the power of the governor's office. In what The New York Times described as a "surprise special session", Republican legislators moved to strip away Cooper's powers before he would assume the governorship on January 1, 2017. Throughout the month of December, Cooper oversaw an attempt to repeal the controversial Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (commonly known as "House Bill 2", "HB2", or simply, the "bathroom bill"). The repeal attempt failed as a deal between state Republican and Democratic lawmakers and Charlotte officials fell apart.
After taking office, as of January 6, 2017, Cooper requested federal approval for Medicaid coverage expansion in North Carolina. Effective January 15, however, a federal judge halted Cooper's request, an order that expired on January 29.On May 9, 2017, President Donald Trump and his administration appointed Roy Cooper along with incumbent New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to a commission to help fight opioid addiction.
After the Supreme Court of the United States declared North Carolina's legislative maps to be unconstitutional, Cooper called for a special redistricting session on June 7, 2017. However, the Republican Party-dominated House and Senate cancelled the session, calling it "unconstitutional". On June 29, Cooper signed the STOP Act, an overhaul of the prescribing and dispensing regulations of opioids.
On July 1, Cooper signed a bill to allow alcohol sales after 10 AM on Sundays, nicknamed the "Brunch Bill"  On July 11, Cooper signed "Britney's Law," which states a homicide is first-degree murder if the killing was committed with malice and the defendant has been convicted before of domestic violence or stalking of the victim. Cooper also signed two additional bills to allow domestic violence protective orders granted by a judge to fully go into effect even when they’re under appeal and to expand the state’s “revenge porn” law from cases involving former lovers to those involving strangers. On July 12, Cooper signed a bill that would add lessons on what to do when pulled over by law enforcement to the state's driver's education curriculum. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.
On July 26, 2017, Cooper signed a bill to mount cameras on school buses in order to reduce drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses. On August 31, 2017, declared a state of emergency due to plummeting gas supply, which was rescinded on September 18.
Cooper's first veto as North Carolina Governor was of a bill that would make elections to the North Carolina Superior Court and to the District Court partisan again, after being conducted on a nonpartisan basis for many years. The Republican-dominated state House voted to override the veto on March 22, 2017. The state Senate followed suit on March 23, which resulted in the bill becoming law over the Governor's objections.
Cooper vetoed a bill on April 21, 2017, to reduce the size of the North Carolina Court of Appeals by three judges. The veto was overridden on April 26. He also vetoed a bill on April 21, 2017, that would create a new state board of elections (and new county boards of elections) split evenly between the Republicans and the Democrats. It would replace the longstanding system that gave the party of the Governor of North Carolina a majority on the board. Both houses of the legislature, which are Republican-dominated, voted to override the veto on April 24 and 25.
Cooper also vetoed a bill that would limit the individuals' ability to sue hog farms. This veto was also overridden by the legislature. On June 27, Cooper vetoed the proposed state budget, which he had called 'Irresponsible' the day before. In his veto message, Cooper cited the budget’s income tax cuts and argued it “lacks structural integrity by failing to account for population growth, inflation and looming federal reductions, by using one-time revenue for recurring expenses, and by adopting a tax plan that will cause the state to fail to fund promised teacher salary increases in future years” and the proposed bill included "provisions that infringe upon the governor’s ability to faithfully execute the laws, including the administration of this Act, as required by the Constitution, and violating the separation of powers.” The Republican-majority legislature voted to override the budget veto the next day.
Roy Cooper is married to Kristin Cooper (née Bernhardt). The couple have three daughters Hilary, Natalie, and Claire and reside in the Governor's mansion. Cooper has taught Sunday school classes, serving as a deacon and elder.
|Democratic||Roy Cooper (inc.)||1,872,097||55.61|
|Democratic||Roy Cooper (inc.)||2,538,178||61.10|
|Democratic||Roy Cooper (inc.)||2,828,941||100.00|
|Margin of victory||10,281||0.22||-7.92%|
|Democratic gain from Republican|
|Party political offices|
|Democratic nominee for Attorney General of North Carolina
2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
|Democratic nominee for Governor of North Carolina
|Attorney General of North Carolina
|Governor of North Carolina
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Vice President
|Order of Precedence of the United States
Within North Carolina
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
as Governor of New York
|Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside North Carolina
as Governor of Rhode Island