Two longtime commonwealth’s attorneys in Northern Virginia lost their Democratic primaries Tuesday to challengers who ran to the left.
Political newcomer Parisa Dehghani-Tafti narrowly defeated Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos.
Tafti ran on a criminal justice reform platform and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state donor George Soros and an endorsement from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
“We’re ready to reexamine what’s going on in our criminal justice system in large and small ways,” Dehghani-Tafti said.
Challenger Steve Descano scored an upset victory over incumbent Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh. Descano knocked off an incumbent who had served as a prosecutor there for more than 35 years.
Descano also sought to capitalize on a wave of support for criminal justice reform. He also received a huge boost from a political action committee funded by Soros that donated almost $400,000 to his campaign.
He also received support from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was upset that Morrogh opposed his effort to automatically restore the voting rights of convicted felons.
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Both nominees would make some significant changes right away, like eliminating cash bail that can keep the poor behind bars for even minor crimes, and neither one would prosecute simple marijuana possession cases.
“I hope to work with the police and magistrate judges so that they’re not prosecuted in Arlington,” Dehghani-Tafti said.
“For marijuana possession, the promise that I’ve made is that I’d go to the court and move to dismiss that case,” Descano said.
Neither will seek the death penalty no matter what the crime.
“For me, I would never seek the death penalty and that’s full stop,” Descano said.
Their platforms are not popular with police, many of whom campaigned against them. Both plan to reach out to the departments.
“I think that we’re going to be able to build a good relationship, because what I want them to know is that I respect them and the work they do and I will always be honest and I will be a straight shooter with them,” Descano said.
The Republican party is not fielding an opponent in either county, making it all but certain these two Democratic party nominees will win their elections in November.
The Democratic nominee in Prince William County, Amy Ashworth, has pledged many of the same reforms. She has a Republican opponent in the fall.
Supervisor Jeff McKay Wins Democratic Primary for Fairfax Co. Board Chair
In another Democratic primary in Fairfax County, longtime Supervisor Jeff McKay won the bid for Board of Supervisors chairman.
In a heavily blue county, he is the presumed successor to Sharon Bulova, who decided not to run, opening the seat for the first time in almost a decade.
McKay defeated school board member Ryan McElveen and political newcomers Tim Chapman and Alicia Plerhoples.