David Stumbo. If Republican voters want a career prosecutor with a proven record of being tough on crime and a friend of law enforcement, David Stumbo is the clear choice in the race and has earned the Blogland's endorsement.
Stumbo is a career prosecutor, having prosecuted cases in the adjacent Eleventh Circuit as well as the state's Attorney General's office. When working in the Eleventh Circuit Solicitor's office, he had a ninety percent conviction race. In covering this race, we've talked with a number of people in the region's legal, criminal justice and law enforcement communities and Stumbo had the highest level of support we've ever seen for such an office. This would be reassuring for an open seat race, but against an incumbent, it's a tremendous sign of confidence they have in his ability to serve as Solicitor.
The incumbent's record has been one of great disappointment. In his four years, the record is nothing short of tragic. With those we've talked with, he's lost the confidence of those the Solicitor's office should be an advocate for: victims and their families, fellow prosecutors and law enforcement. This lack of confidence is stunning and we've found some very serious reasons for this lack of support and trust.
We've heard that Peace enjoys a close relationship with criminal defense attorneys. While it's vital to have an effective working relationship, it's crucial to keep that relationship balanced. On this issue, every single person we spoke with expressed the belief that Peace had become too cozy with defense attorneys in the circuit - which might help explain some of the stories we've seen (and in some cases discussed) of low conviction rates and deal-making in major cases.
A major concern is with DUI prosecutions. As we've reported previously, the counties where Peace is Solicitor have lagged far behind other Upstate counties in terms of convictions.
There has been considerable fallout over a sexual predator case where the victim's family has maintained that the Solicitor's office made a deal behind their backs, a move which was also criticized for not following standard procedures for a case of its kind. This case generated considerable discontent in the circuit.
Ben Shealy is the third candidate in this race. A concerned citizen and attorney, he wants to see the Solicitor's office become more effective, but lacks the kind of major prosecution experience as well as the campaign support that Stumbo has attracted. While his motives are commendable, the office needs an experienced and proven prosecutor who is determined to make a difference and has the active support to win the upcoming primary - leaving Stumbo as the only candidate worthy of consideration in the upcoming prirmary.
The counties of the Eighth Judicial Circuit include many high crime areas and have been let down by the incumbent Solicitor. Those wanting a change would do well to give David Stumbo a chance to lead the charge as their next Solicitor.