- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Democrat Josh Stein said he’s making preparations to become North Carolina’s next attorney general as it became clearer Wednesday that his opponent would have to cut his deficit in half to even request a recount.

Republican Buck Newton would have to narrow his margin trailing Stein to 10,000 votes or less to request a recount, the State Board of Elections said. Unofficial results show Newton behind Stein by more than 20,000 votes out of 4.5 million cast.

“I’m confident that I will be the next attorney general of North Carolina and I will begin the process of making sure that when I start in January I’ll be ready to go,” Stein said in a telephone interview.

Newton campaign strategist Michael Luethy issued a statement indicating the Republican isn’t conceding the race. There are potentially thousands of ballots yet to be counted in the race, including mailed absentee ballots and provisional ballots.

“Especially in such a razor-close race, we are committed to making sure every vote counts and preventing any shenanigans from overcoming the will of the voters in this race,” Luethy said.

Stein said he’s starting to think about who he wants to hire for his staff as the state’s top prosecutor. He plans to attend a conference in Virginia next week on opiate addiction to get a better picture of what other states are doing, he said.

“I want to do everything I can as attorney general to confront the rising epidemic of opiate addiction,” Stein said.

Further down the ballot, the race for state auditor also remained razor-thin on Wednesday.

Republican Chuck Stuber trailed two-term incumbent Beth Wood by about 3,100 votes. If that gap stays under 10,000 after county elections boards decide whether to count provisional ballots, likely by the end of next week, a recount is possible.

Stuber said he’ll ask for a recount if the results wind up similar to Wednesday’s unofficial count.

“I think I owe that to people who supported me and voted for me,” Stuber said. “Sounds like I’ll be in limbo until the final results are determined and certified. I’ll see where I go from there.”

Wood, meanwhile, declared victory.

“We are excited, gratified and honored to have won the election for another four-year term,” she said in a prepared statement. “Due to the closeness of the final results we realize there is a process we must go through to fully certify the final tally and we will honor that process.”

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