Local News

Cheek Still Undecided About Durham DA Run

Posted July 11, 2006 12:23 p.m. EDT

— Durham County Commissioner Lewis Cheek, whose name will appear on the November ballot against District Attorney Mike Nifong, refused to say on Tuesday whether he would actively campaign for the job.

Cheek held a news conference at 9:40 a.m. and thanked the more than 6,400 people who signed a petition to get his name on the ballot.

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    But, he refused to say whether he would actually seek the office.

    "I'll be making a decision about whether I will actively campaign -- just as quickly as I can," Cheek said. "This would represent a complete change in my career track. ... There are very personal sorts of issues I have to think through."

    Cheek refused to take any questions at the news conference, but he has to think about his commitment to his personal law firm and to the Board of Commissioners.

    "I don't do anything without being committed, and that's the way I go about doing everything," Cheek told a pool of reporters outside the Durham County Board of Elections Office. "I go about it 100 percent. That's why I make sure about my decisions before I put them in action, and that's the way I'll handle this."

    Cheek has been critical of Nifong's handling of a case in which three Duke University lacrosse players are accused of raping a woman at a team party in March.

    The three players maintain they are innocent of charges that have been filed against them.

    During Tuesday's news conference Cheek again took aim at Nifong's handling of the case, speaking about what he believes a district attorney should do.

    "Don't prejudge -- don't engage in public discourse," Cheek said.

    Cheek did not say when he would have a decision, but said he did not want "to prolong the decision-making process."

    In recent weeks, Nifong has refused to comment about a challenger in the general election until another name was on the ballot. On Tuesday, he said he would reserve comment until Cheek decides whether he will campaign.

    If Cheek were to be elected but did not want the job, the DA position would then be vacant. The governor would then have to appoint a new district attorney.

    In May, Nifong beat two challengers for the Democratic spot on the ballot -- former Assistant District Attorney Freda Black and Durham lawyer Keith Bishop. Nifong won by 883 votes.