Half of Wake DA race set for November
Posted May 6
Updated May 7
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Lorrin Freeman on Tuesday captured the Democratic nomination to be the county's next district attorney after her opponent conceded the race.
With 70 percent of the precincts reporting, Freeman had 58 percent of the vote, compared with 42 percent for Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger, according to unofficial results.
On the Republican side, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden and defense attorney John Bryant were locked in a tight battle – 385 votes separated them – and could be headed for a July runoff.
"I'll have to talk to the folks who helped me get to this point so far and so fast," Bryant said when asked whether he would call for a runoff. "I would like them to have an opportunity to have some input into the decision."
Cruden said he is prepared for a runoff but is looking forward to the general election.
"We're excited. It shows that, if you do things the right way for the right reasons for a long enough period of time, it matters," he said. "If he wants to have a runoff, we're ready to run. ... We've got momentum, and we're going to keep it going."
Colon Willoughby, who served as Wake County's top prosecutor for three decades, resigned in March to go into private practice.
"We are very pleased with tonight's outcome and appreciate the support for our message moving forward with with the integrity and independence that's been a hallmark of the District Attorney's Office under the leadership of Colon Willoughby," Freeman said.
"We're disappointed by tonight's results, but I'm proud of how my team of supporters stood up for what we believed in," Zellinger said.
Last month, Zellinger repudiated direct-mail ads from the State Employees Association of North Carolina that linked Freeman to a scandal in her office in which two former employees were charged with conspiring with bail bondsmen to cheat the court system out of more than $1 million.
Freeman was the one who uncovered the alleged scheme and called in the State Bureau of Investigation.
Zellinger said he appreciated the SEANC endorsement but said any implication that she was dishonest was wrong.
"I look forward to supporting Lorrin Freeman," he said Tuesday. "She is a fantastic candidate, and I will do everything I can to help her win in November."
Triangle DA, sheriff races
In Durham County, Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols defeated fellow prosecutor Mitch Garrell and lawyer Brian Aus in the Democratic primary for district attorney.
District Attorney Leon Stanback, a retired judge who was appointed two years ago to finish the term of Tracey Cline after she was removed from office, didn't seek a full term on his own. Echols faces no Republican opposition in the November election.
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews will likewise run unopposed in November after defeating security consultant Clarence Birkhead and retired deputy Richard Buchanan in the Democratic primary.
In Orange County, a six-person race to succeed retiring Sheriff Lindy Pendergrass is likely headed to a runoff, with retired deputies Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell each winning 30 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler beat back two challengers for the Democratic nomination and will face one of his former deputies, Republican Charlie Baxley, in the general election.