Nifong's opponents, both of whom are private attorneys, present potential problems for him. Keith Bishop has no prosecutorial experience, but he is black, and was recently endorsed by an influential African American political group, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. Freda Black is a former prosecutor who won a conviction in the murder trial of novelist Michael Peterson in 2003.
Black has raised more money than Nifong -- about $45,000 to his $32,000, according to campaign finance records. (Bishop's records were not on file with the State Board of Elections.)
Today's election is a Democratic primary; no Republicans are running. If no candidate gets more than 40% of the votes, the top two vote-getters will go to a May 30 runoff. A new district attorney would take office Jan. 1.
In that scenario, Nifong could continue to pursue the case for months, but a successor might take the case to trial. Neither of Nifong's challengers has said whether they would drop or pursue the case if elected -- but Nifong's supporters said they were sure defense lawyers would be happier trying the case against a different district attorney.