Duke lacrosse prosecutor Mike Nifong turned back a pair of challengers Tuesday to win his first full term in office as Durham County district attorney.

With 53 of 59 precincts reporting, Nifong had 24,479 votes, nearly 49 percent, to 19,816, or 39 percent, for challenger Lewis Cheek. Write-in Steve Monks had 12 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results.

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Both challengers were critical of how Nifong has handled the investigation into allegations that three lacrosse players raped a stripper at a team party in March, but they faced an uphill battle to defeat Nifong, a veteran prosecutor who was appointed district attorney in 2005.

Cheek collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate, but pledged not to serve if elected.

Monks, a Republican, was running a write-in campaign in an overwhelmingly Democratic county. Nifong, a Democrat, had a wide lead in the only publicly released poll taken.

Neither Cheek nor Monks would pledge to end the case if they won office.

State elections officials said turnout in Durham County was robust. A single polling place in Durham County opened about an hour late, and officials decided to keep that station open until 8:30 p.m. to make up for the lost time.

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