Pope beats Gore in DA primary, now faces David

By Kristy Ondo - bio |email

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) - On Wednesday, the talk of Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties was all about the political defeat suffered by long-time district attorney Rex Gore.

The 20-year veteran lost in Tuesday night's primary to a political newcomer, Harold "Butch" Pope.

Now, in the wake of Gore's defeat, the stage is already being set for November, but not before a little celebrating.

"We had anticipated winning, but the margins were even better than we expected," said Pope of his 12-point win over fellow Democrat Rex Gore in the primary.

Pope is an attorney with an office in downtown Whiteville.  He defeated Gore in both Columbus and Bladen counties despite many predictions that nothing could ever take Gore out of office.

"I heard the David and Goliath stories. And I heard, 'You can't beat the machines,' but we stuck in there anyway," said Pope.

The story isn't over yet. Now he'll be fighting against David--that is, Jon David, an assistant district attorney in New Hanover County who tried for the District 13 DA job four years ago and lost.

Then, David had a good showing in Brunswick County but couldn't win over the Columbus County voters. That was before Butch Pope came on the scene, scooping up supporters all over Whiteville and beyond.

David, however, says he won't be deterred by Pope's large number of supporters in heavily democratic Columbus County.

"The most important yardstick by which you should measure a DA is not political affiliation," said David.  "It's not what town you live in. It's track record and experience. Do you want a career defense attorney to be your next DA or a career prosecutor?"

Pope said he predicted David would go after his track record as a defense attorney and defended himself, saying being on the defensive side for so many years has only helped him better understand how the offense works.  David, though, insists a career defense attorney will never have the kind of experience needed to prosecute criminals to the fullest extent of the law.

That's one issue the two candidates sharply disagree upon, but they do agree on something else.

"Change has come to this area. Last night was the end of an era," said David.

"It is a new era. It's gonna be a new day," said Pope.

Now, voters need to decide who will lead them into the new day...and the next four years.

Rex gore returned a call from WECT on Wednesday afternoon but did not want to be interviewed. He said the day should be reserved for the people who will be advancing to the November races.

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