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Roy Cooper takes office early, promising to work with opponents

Attorney General Roy Cooper says he's ready to fight Republican legislation moving through the General Assembly's special session that would hobble the Democrat when he becomes governor in a few weeks. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

North Carolina has a new governor. But will he be able to break through the political divide to make a difference?

RELATED LINK | New N.C. governor Cooper builds team as inauguration approaches

Roy Cooper took the oath of office on New Year's Eve, ahead of the traditional inauguration, promising to tackle some major issues.

But outgoing governor Pat McCrory has also made it clear he believes that North Carolina was the target of some dirty politics, the kind of politics that could also haunt Cooper in the years ahead.

Roy Cooper was sworn in as North Carolina' s 75th governor in a private ceremony ahead of his January 7 inauguration. The 59-year old democrat and former Attorney General promised to get right to work.

"It is an incredible honor and privilege to serve as governor of this great state, and I will work to be a governor for all of North Carolina," Cooper said.

Cooper said he's confident he'll be able to work together with his political opponents. But already, the Republican-controlled legislature on Christmas week rejected a Cooper-brokered repeal of House Bill two, a piece of legislation that might have cost former governor Pat McCrory the election.

"I wish I would have been successful in convincing Charlotte not to start this masquerade of an issue, that no doubt had an impact on my future election and on North Carolina in a very unfair way," McCrory said in a video address in December.

Before leaving office Saturday, McCrory released a sort of fireside chat on Youtube, discussing his accomplishments like reducing unemployment, paying off the state's federal debts, and issuing teacher pay raises. But he also talked about his disappointments, calling HB2 a phony social issue that didn't exist.

"I'm sad that North Carolina was the target of a left-wing Washington group that made that happen," he said. And the bitter feelings between both parties could continue.

Also in their final special session, lawmakers created new roadblocks for the Cooper administration, requiring senate approval for his nominees to lead state agencies.

RELATED LINK | North Carolina Governor-elect sues over law stripping his powers

They also took away two thirds of his political appointments and his power to appoint members of state and county elections boards.

Cooper is now legally challenging several of the lawmakers' actions, political battles that are likely to continue.

"And as we start this new year, as we go to work, let's keep in mind the work that we have ahead and that we have to keep our eye on the horizon," Cooper said.

As we've seen from the special session, Cooper faces a hostile legislature unafraid to fight along political party lines.

What's ahead for Pat McCrory? Reports say he's moving back to Charlotte before deciding what to do next.

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