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 North Carolina Governor. Cooper took office on January 1, 2017. The Republican-dominated legislature passed bills in a special session before he took office to reduce his power. The legislature has overridden several of his vetoes of legislation.
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 degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Cooper ran for Governor of North Carolina in the 2016 election against incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.
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.
Roy Cooper is married to Kristin Cooper (née Bernhardt), who worked as a guardian ad litem for foster children in Wake County. The couple has three daughters Hilary, Natalie, and Claire who all graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They reside in the Executive Mansion. Cooper has taught Sunday school classes, serving as a deacon and elder.