By Steven Gaither, Web Producer/Digital Journalist - email
David Learner defeated District Attorney James Gaither in the Republican runoff election for the office in the 25th District, which comprises Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties. Learner celebrated the win with supporters in Newton and received a call from Mr. Gaither conceding the race around 8 p.m.
"We're real excited," said Learner. "It's been a very difficult campaign and this is just really the first step. We're going to be getting organized here and taking it one step at a time. We give all the glory, honor and praise to God."
With 14,528 votes counted and all 94 precincts reporting, Learner claimed 61.8 percent while Gaither received 38.2 percent between the three counties. Learner claimed commanding wins in Burke (76.04 percent) and Caldwell (62.45 percent) counties, while Catawba County was a closer race (Learner 57.88 percent, Gaither 42.12 percent).
Learner won the initial vote back in May, but fell just shy of the votes needed to avoid a runoff. Gaither later filed two complaints against Learner, accusing him of being inaccurate in campaign material.
Gaither was later sued by former Assistant DA Whitney Nicole Shaffer, who accused him of making unwanted advances.
Learner will win by default as no one is running for DA on the Democratic ticket.
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