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Nifong Wins Primary With 45% Of Vote

From the DNC's Associated Press:

District Attorney Michael B. Nifong, getting a hug Tuesday night from Shamieka Rhinehart, the assistant district attorney, after winning the election. "He's a good man," Ms. Rhinehart said. "I'm so proud of him."

N.C. District Attorney Wins Primary

By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer

Wed May 3, 5:23 AM ET

DURHAM, N.C. – Mike Nifong has never seen a need to apologize for how he's investigating rape allegations against members of Duke University's lacrosse team. Now that voters have backed his bid to remain district attorney, he sees no reason to start.

"I feel I did what was right and I don't have anything to be vindicated for," said Nifong, who fought off two challengers in Tuesday's Democratic primary and immediately vowed to continue his aggressive pursuit of the headline-grabbing case.

The prosecutor also insisted that the vote had not become a referendum on his performance in the Duke investigation. He said, "I really felt like I was by far the best candidate. … I'm glad that the people of Durham agree with me."

In unofficial results, Nifong had 45 percent of the vote, with challenger Freda Black close behind with about 42 percent, though Black refused to concede the race. There are no Republicans running in the general election, and Nifong only needed 40 percent plus one vote to avoid a primary runoff.

Nifong, 55, has been at the center of the media storm surrounding the rape allegations made by a black 27-year-old student at North Carolina Central University, who told police she was raped and beaten by three white men at a March 13 party thrown by Duke's lacrosse team.

After nearly three decades as an assistant prosecutor, Nifong was appointed district attorney last year after Jim Hardin was named to a judgeship. He initially talked openly about his investigation, at one point labeling some players "hooligans" and boldly predicting DNA test results would identify the guilty.

Those tests failed to find a match between the accuser and any player tested, according to defense attorneys.

The early comments drew fire from Black, 45, a former assistant prosecutor in Durham, and Keith Bishop, 43, a lawyer in private practice. Some voters also expressed concern about Nifong's outspoken handling of the case, even though he changed course in early April and generally stopped answering questions.

Other voters said it was unfair to judge the veteran prosecutor on just one case, even if it has drawn intense media scrutiny to Durham and Duke University, by far the largest employer in the county.

"I was concerned at first that he was politicizing it," said Sue Jarrell, who works at Duke as a business analyst and voted for Nifong. "But I realized that no matter who was the district attorney, when something like this occurred, it would be highly political and highly volatile."

There is a slight chance Nifong will face a challenger in November.

Unaffiliated candidates have until June 30 to submit petitions signed by 4 percent of registered voters in Durham County, or about 6,300, to win a spot on the fall ballot. Write-in candidates need to file petitions with just 100 signatures by Aug. 9.

Last month, a grand jury indicted Duke sophomore lacrosse players Reade Seligmann of Essex Fells, N.J., and Collin Finnerty of Garden City, N.Y., on charges of rape, kidnapping and sexual assault. Nifong has said he hopes to charge a third person. Defense attorneys have strongly proclaimed the players' innocence.

It sure is nice the way the AP always finds the voice of the people:

"I was concerned at first that he was politicizing it," said Sue Jarrell, who works at Duke as a business analyst and voted for Nifong. "But I realized that no matter who was the district attorney, when something like this occurred, it would be highly political and highly volatile."

And she works at Duke.

What is wrong with these people?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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