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Lewis Cheek is a Durham lawyer, currently serving as County Commissioner who ran against Mike Nifong for District Attorney in 2006. Cheek was highly critical of Nifong's handling of the Duke lacrosse case, calling it a "circus" and saying that Durham had become a "national laughing stock".
In July 2006, during the campaign, Cheek acknowledged that if he should win the election, he would not serve. The Herald-Sun falsely reported that Cheek had instructed supporters not to vote for him, and listed Nifong as "unopposed". However, Cheek still had reasons to continue running; if he were to win the election, Governor Mike Easley would have appointed someone to serve in Cheek's place as District Attorney. (There was precedent for such a case; in 2000 Missouri voters re-elected the recently deceased governor Mel Carnahan over his opponent John Ashcroft, causing the governor to appoint Carnahan's widow to the position instead.) It is highly unlikely that Easley would have chosen Nifong again: Easley said in January 2007 called Nifong his "poorest appointment" and had almost un-appointed him when Nifong broke the promise he had made not to run for the office at the conclusion of his appointed term.