District attorney Jay Gaither loses in runoff - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

District attorney Jay Gaither loses in runoff

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HICKORY, NC (WBTV/AP) -

David Learner has defeated incumbent Jay Gaither to win the Republican nomination in a race for district attorney in western North Carolina where the candidates traded accusations.

In unofficial returns from Tuesday's voting, Learner got almost 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Gaither.

The victory means Learner will represent District 25 because no Democrats were running in the three-county district.

After the polls closed, Gaither told WBTV over the phone that he didn't "see any way to overcome the deficit."

He reportedly called Learner to congratulate him and offered to do all he could to make it a smooth transition.

Learner told WBTV's Steve Ohnesorge he "appreciated the call from Jay and will start as soon as possible to get up to speed with the cases the office is involved in."

Learner said he does not intend to clean house when he takes over as DA. While there will be some personnel changes he said "there are some fine people working in the office who I will ask to stay on."

During the race, Learner criticized Gaither for the sentence handed down to Elisa Baker in the 2010 death of her stepdaughter, Zahra. 

Gaither hit back at Learner over his link to a multilevel sales company that was shut down last year by the Federal Trade Commission, which called it a pyramid scheme.

Gaither was also the target of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former assistant prosecutor.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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