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Turning Against Nifong

Another interesting twist in the Duke rape case: Jackie Brown, the woman who ran DA Mike Nifong's primary campaign, jumped ship and is now heading up the effort to get County Commissioner Lewis Cheek on the ballot to run against Nifong this fall. Cheek has been urged to enter the race by those critical of Nifong's handling of the Duke case.

Brown has worked for Cheek in the past, but it's still pretty clear she doesn't think too highly of the way Nifong has conducted himself during the Duke investigation:

"Durham has been the center of controversy for a long time and I believe it needs some leadership to take it in the right direction," Brown said. "Lewis is a leader; he's a gentleman."

While acknowledging, "We don't know everything Mr. Nifong knows," Brown said the Duke lacrosse rape case was a factor in her decision to help Cheek try to unseat the man she just helped elect.

"I don't see any progress made at this point," she said.

The Raleigh News Observer has more:

Although criticism of Nifong's handling of the Duke lacrosse case arose during his primary campaign, Brown said she did not abandon her candidate because she had never lost a campaign. But she fielded many questions about Nifong.

"I cannot tell you how many hundreds of people called me toward the end of his campaign saying, 'Oh my God, oh my God.' It really started before he got elected," she said.

The News Observer also reports that Ronald Leary, a former sheriff and big Nifong supporter, has also decided to switch sides and support Cheek. To be put on the ballot, Cheek needs to round up signatures from 6,303 registered voters in the next 14 days. Something tells me that won't be much of a problem if Cheek decides to run.

Meanwhile, the defense lawyers' assault on Nifong continues here and here.