WASHINGTON — Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Saturday, positioning himself to lead a nation gripped by a historic pandemic and a confluence of economic and social turmoil.
His victory came after more than three days of uncertainty as election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes that delayed processing. Biden crossed the winning threshold of 270 Electoral College votes with a win in Pennsylvania.
Trump refused to concede, threatening further legal action on ballot counting.
In his first speech after securing the White House, Biden, 77, on Saturday night made an appeal to supporters of President Donald Trump.
Biden said Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, that “this is the time to heal in America” and pledged to be a president to represent even those who didn’t support him.
Noting ”I’ve lost a couple times myself,” Biden said, “now, let’s give each other a chance.”
Biden said “it’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” saying of his political opponents, “they are not our enemies. They are Americans.”
He added that he’s pledging to be a president “who seeks not to divide but to unify.”
Biden jogged onto the stage wearing a black suit, black mask and light blue tie. He pointed and waved at the screaming crowd gathered to hear him speak.
Biden staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. The strategy proved effective, resulting in pivotal victories in Michigan and Wisconsin as well as Pennsylvania, onetime Democratic bastions that had flipped to Trump in 2016.
Biden was on track to win the national popular vote by more than 4 million, a margin that could grow as ballots continue to be counted.
Nonetheless, Trump was not giving up.
Departing from longstanding democratic tradition and signaling a potentially turbulent transfer of power, he issued a combative statement saying his campaign would take unspecified legal actions. And he followed up with a bombastic, all-caps tweet in which he falsely declared, “I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.” Twitter immediately flagged it as misleading.
Trump has pointed to delays in processing the vote in some states to allege with no evidence that there was fraud and to argue that his rival was trying to seize power — an extraordinary charge by a sitting president trying to sow doubt about a bedrock democratic process.
Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman to become vice president. The California senator, who is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency, will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, four years after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992.
GUILFORD COUNTY — Stronger together.
That’s how local leaders sum up the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance, which was formed five years ago this month.
Bill Bencini, who was High Point’s mayor at the time, calls it “a model of economic development on a regional level.”
He and the members of the City Council, along with the Greensboro City Council and Guilford County Board of Commissioners together approved the alliance, which “has worked far better over the last five years than any of us had dreamed possible,” said Carlos Olvera, chairman of the High Point Economic Development Corp.
High Point, Greensboro and Guilford County work together to share information and recruit companies, which used to be a competitive process.
“We have done so well working together to bring jobs and investment to Guilford County. And the GCEDA has been internationally recognized twice for our efforts,” Olvera said.
In 2016, the alliance earned an award both for the efforts that led to its creation and for the way it is set up. The award, from the International Economic Development Council, was for “regionalism and cross-border collaboration.”
It won the same award this year for the effort to retain The Fresh Market headquarters in Greensboro, which officials point to as a prime example of how the alliance is supposed to work.
“The Fresh Market will relocate its corporate headquarters to downtown Greensboro by the end of this year,” said EDC President Loren Hill. “A historic joint public hearing of the High Point and Greensboro city councils was held in November 2019, at which each city authorized performance-based incentives to keep the company in the county.”
The city councils of High Point and Greensboro each authorized up to $301,000 in cash incentives and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners up to $106,000, to retain the corporate headquarters of the upscale grocery chain, its existing 248 jobs and 53 possible new ones, as well as $2 million in new capital investment.
High Point approved the incentives for the company even though it has no physical presence or jobs in the city limits.
“IEDC gave two awards in 2020 in the Regionalism and Cross-Border Collaboration category,” Hill said. “One was the Guilford County alliance’s unique team effort to retain the headquarters of The Fresh Market. The other was the well-known Amazon HQ2 project that landed in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. I would say that Guilford County is in good company in cross-border collaboration.”
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HIGH POINT — So much attention, for understandable reasons, focused on the possible impact of still-to-be counted ballots in North Carolina on the race for the White House.
After Saturday’s monumental political development, that’s no longer the case.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden secured the White House when he won the swing states of Pennsylvania and Nevada against Republican President Donald Trump. That means the resolution of outstanding ballots later this week in North Carolina won’t help determine the outcome.
But the reverberations from determining the choices on the outstanding ballots could help settle the state’s marquee U.S. Senate race and even reach down to determine close local races in Guilford County.
County election boards will hold their general election vote canvass on Friday, an occasion that’s usually a little-noticed formality but will be far from that now.
Late last week, the N.C. State Board of Elections indicated that there were more than 116,000 outstanding mail-in absentee ballots and nearly 41,000 provisional ballots. The provisional ballots refer to ones where there’s a discrepancy or question about the voter’s residence or registration.
The canvass in the state’s 100 counties will illuminate the votes of mailed-in absentee ballots that arrive between Nov. 4 — the day after Election Day — and this Thursday. The outstanding absentee ballots will determine the winner of the Senate contest between GOP Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. Tillis has a narrow lead in the contest that will help determine which party controls the Senate for at least the next two years.
The canvass could tilt the balance of races closer to home for local voters. There are three contests in Guilford County — one for the board of commissioners and the other two for school board — where the margin between the candidates is less than 1%.
Democratic challenger Mary Beth Murphy leads Republican District 4 Commissioner Alan Branson by 18 votes out of a little more than 43,000 votes cast. With all precincts reporting unofficial returns, Murphy has 21,521 votes, or 50.02%, to Branson’s 21,503, or 49.98%. The district covers eastern Guilford County.
In the District 3 school board race, Republican incumbent Pat Tillman holds an 88-vote lead over Democratic challenger Blake Odum with nearly 37,000 votes cast. Tillman has 18,407 votes, or 51.12%, to Odum’s 18,319, or 49.88%. The district covers parts of Greensboro and northwestern Guilford County.
In the other contested school board race, unaffiliated candidate Deborah Napper holds a 187-vote lead over Republican Michelle Bardsley with nearly 36,000 votes cast. Napper has 18,048 votes, or 50.26%, to Bardsley’s 17,861, or 49.74%. The district covers parts of Greensboro and northern Guilford County.
The canvass across 100 counties also could impact two close statewide races in which one candidate in each contest has ties to the area.
In the race for chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, Republican Associate Justice Paul Newby leads by less than 1% over Democratic incumbent Cheri Beasley. Newby grew up in Jamestown.
As of this weekend, Newby had 2,672,253 votes, or 50.02%, to Beasley’s 2,669,607 votes, or 49.98%
In the contest for state attorney general, Democratic incumbent Josh Stein leads by a similar slim margin over Republican challenger Jim O’Neill, the district attorney of Forsyth County. Stein has 2,687,433 votes, or 50.11%, to 2,675,630 votes for O’Neill, or 49.89%
The impact of the crush of absentee ballots could be more pronounced in local races compared to previous elections.
Usually only a handful of mailed-in absentee ballots add to vote totals in a district race within a county. But that should be different this time because of the record amount of mailed-in absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It depends on the number of ballots that are actually coming in,” said Martin Kifer, chairman of the Political Science Department at High Point University.
How the voters in Guilford County with outstanding absentee ballots are distributed by residence will play a large part on the impact on local close races, Kifer told The High Point Enterprise.
“Then you have to account for the distribution of political party affiliation within those ballots,” he said.
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