If given a little thought, it would come as no surprise that the best, sure fire way to lose an election would be to court the African American vote. Even in cities, counties and districts where they represent a fairly large percentage of the population, the per cent of those who are eligible and registered voters is more likely than not disproportionately small. Of those African Americans who are registered to vote, the likelihood that they will avail themselves of the opportunity is not as great as other blocks of voters. The reasons are many, and include the fact that many blacks feel disenfranchised and have no faith in elected politicians to seriously address their concerns. Others may feel intimidated about voting due to possible outstanding warrants, fines, or other legal snares awaiting them. A larger per cent of African Americans are usually unemployed, with many of voting age being single parents, and many do not have a high school diploma. Statistics have shown that populations that are not highly educated are less likely to vote. African Americans struggling to support their families are less likely to take time to vote, as well. Finally, a disproportionately large number of African Americans are incarcerated, or have been labeled by the courts as being felons. Therefore, a large per cent of African Americans making up a population does not automatically guarantee that a large number of them will be registered to vote, and that of those who are registered, that they will turn out. Therefore, it is a reasonable premise that the best way to lose an election is for a candidate to court the black vote.
This premise is applicable to the city of Durham, and any reasonable person would know that former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong lessened his chances for re-election when he prosecuted the Duke Lacrosse case. He did not try to use the case for political leverage one way or the other. Mr. Nifong prosecuted the case because of the particulars of the alleged attack: 1) gang-like sexual assault; and 2) use of racial epithets by the partygoers against the alleged victim. Mr. Nifong prosecuted the case because it was in his job description as a district attorney to do so. Had Mr. Nifong wanted to play it safe as far as re-election went, he would not have sought an indictment of the Duke Lacrosse defendants. He proceeded with the prosecution with the full knowledge that doing so would actually put his re-election campaign in jeopardy, which it did. In May 2006, he barely won the primary. There is no doubt in my mind that had Mr. Nifong not prosecuted the Duke Lacrosse case, that his margin of victory in the primary race would have been comfortably much larger.
The accusations by the attorneys of the Duke Lacrosse defendants, the State Bar, and the Attorney General’s Office that Mr. Nifong was motivated to pursue criminal charges against the Duke Lacrosse defendants for political gain, is totally unsubstantiated, without merit, and lacks logic when one considers the aforementioned issues. The State Bar, in particular, has nothing on which to base their claims that Mr. Nifong’s actions in the Duke Lacrosse case were politically motivated.
Like so much else associated with actions and attacks against Mr. Nifong in this case, this claim is not only reckless but illogical. It behooves the public to think long and hard about statements made by Mr. Nifong’s detractors. Unfortunately, the biased media is in cahoots with the state and defendants, and it cannot be relied upon to report fairly and objectively about Mr. Nifong and the Duke Lacrosse case.