Wake County District Attorney Watch: Allen Swaim

Allen Swaim, a Wendell lawyer, has set up his Facebook Page and launched his and has announced a kick-off party at Cooper’s BBQ on Monday. He is running as a Republican candidate in the May primary. Jefferson Griffin and Jeff Cruden, both felony assistant district attorneys, filed last week.

Swaim’s Facebook page indicates he is going to file Monday, followed by the fundraiser at Cooper’s.

While he moved to Wake County to attend North Carolina State and married his college sweetheart in 1991, he didn’t complete his degree in engineering until 2003. In the meantime, Swaim ran an HVAC company in Wendell. A father of seven, he started his law degree at a law school in Virginia, but transferred to Duke and got his law degree in 2006, and entered private practice in 2009.

Described as “unorthodox,” Swaim filed to create a campaign a candidate committee last Monday. He had raised $154 as of the initial campaign finance disclosure report. His treasurer is lawyer Christopher Elliott Fulmer. Swaim’s domain was registered by Jay Langley, who owns a printing and direct mail company in Raleigh.

Swaim is running as an outsider. While this is not necessarily a bad thing – an outsider to the office might be valuable after nearly 30 years – the question is whether Swaim can translate his unorthodox approach into a disciplined candidacy and whether, if elected, he can successfully navigate both the politics of running the state’s most important District Attorney office and manage the day-to-day affairs of an office that handles the criminal prosecutions in a million person county.

While voters will hardly be attuned to the courthouse concerns, a second, and equally important, question is whether the office of some 40 prosecutors would enjoy the same stability with Swaim as the elected DA. Cruden, Griffin, and Freeman, who have all filed thus far, are people who would enjoy the confidence of the vast majority of the office. Swaim is likely to be viewed with skepticism.

In the coming weeks, I would expect the Republican Party to make some choices about who it is backing. While historically the party has stayed out of primary elections, the party does have an interest in putting forth a strong general election candidate who will understand that the District Attorney’s office in the capital city is not an afterthought, but really an important piece of solidifying the party’s dominance in North Carolina.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.