ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Durham Republicans to Challenge District Attorney Over Duke Case

ByABC News via GMA logo
June 19, 2006, 6:26 AM

June 19, 2006 — -- The Durham Republican Party will field a candidate to run against the district attorney leading the investigation in the Duke lacrosse rape case in the November election, ABC News' Law & Justice Unit has learned.

Durham Republican County Chairman Steve Monks told ABC News that he will announce his intention to challenge Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong in a press conference at 4 p.m. ET today. Monks and Durham County Republicans acknowledged that the Duke rape investigation weighed heavily in their decision to field a GOP candidate in a traditionally Democratic county.

"People feel [Nifong] totally sold out the people of Durham,'' Monks said. "They don't feel comfortable with this case. They feel like it was a sellout, that he pandered to the people of Durham.''

Nifong couldn't be reached for comment Sunday night. He stopped commenting publicly about the Duke lacrosse case in April, and the voicemail at his office says, "Mr. Nifong has no comment for the press at this time about the lacrosse matter.''

Monks said he would reserve judgment about the Duke lacrosse investigation if and until he is elected. However, he said, if he is elected and determines that the Duke case is weak, he would dismiss the charges.

"I would review the facts and find out what it is that Mike Nifong has on these kids, and I'd try it if there's a case and dismiss it if there isn't,'' Monks told ABC News.

Monks had just finished a phone conversation with Nifong when he announced his candidacy to ABC News.

"Mike was interested by my news, but said he was frustrated with the political process," Monks said. "I asked him if I was high on his list of frustration, and he said, 'No.'"

"I told him, man to man, this is what I'm going to do. I thought it was the right thing to do to tell him before I announced it," Monks continued. "I told him I thought I could do this job well, and he questioned candidly the issue of my experience.