Washington Examiner

Three Democratic DA primaries in northern Virginia saw the testing of progressive candidates.

A Trio of Democratic District Attorneys Face Challenges in Northern Virginia

A trio of Democratic district attorneys in northern Virginia are facing challenges from members of their own party who claim they have mishandled high-profile cases and put residents at risk. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, and Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti were elected in 2019 with the support of progressive donors, but now face criticism and recall efforts.

Challenging the Status Quo

These district attorneys were part of a wave of progressive candidates who campaigned on transparency and fairness in law enforcement. However, their opponents argue that they have failed to live up to these promises and have mismanaged their offices, putting nearly 2 million residents at risk.

Republican-linked group Virginians for Safe Communities has targeted Descano, Biberaj, and Dehghani-Tafti, attempting to brand them as soft on crime. The group’s president, Sean Kennedy, sees these recall efforts as a test case for a nationwide push to address voters’ concerns about crime rates and anti-police sentiment.

A Snapshot of the Future

The outcome of the primary races in Virginia could provide insight into the upcoming elections for prosecutors in other states. Prosecutors across several states will be on the ballot next year, and the results in Virginia may indicate the direction these races will take.

The Challenges Ahead

In Fairfax County, Steve Descano is being challenged by Ed Nuttall, a trial lawyer known for defending officers charged in police shootings. Nuttall has criticized Descano’s handling of cases and promises to make significant changes to protect the vulnerable population and hold violent offenders accountable.

In Loudoun County, Buta Biberaj is facing off against former public defender Elizabeth Lancaster. Lancaster has highlighted the high turnover rate in Biberaj’s office and aims to restore competency to the office.

In Arlington, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is being challenged by Josh Katcher, a former prosecutor in her office. Katcher claims that Dehghani-Tafti’s management style has led to an exodus in the office and calls for a 21st-century reform prosecution agenda.

Evaluating the Records

Descano has been criticized for losing winnable cases and mishandling evidence, raising concerns about his effectiveness as a prosecutor. Biberaj’s decision to no longer prosecute certain misdemeanor charges has drawn attention and sparked controversy. Dehghani-Tafti has brought fewer cases than her predecessor but has achieved a higher conviction rate by not stacking charges.

These challenges highlight the importance of competent and effective leadership in district attorney offices. Voters will have the opportunity to decide whether these incumbents have lived up to their promises and if it’s time for a change.



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