Incumbent Buta Biberaj, one of three prosecutors in northern Virginia who faced tough challenges after being elected four years ago on a reform agenda, has won her Democratic primary over challenger Elizabeth Lancaster.
Biberaj, the commonwealth’s attorney in Loudoun County, raised significantly more money, but Lancaster had earned the endorsement of The Washington Post. Biberaj faced criticism, including some within her own party, over her day-to-day management of the office and as Loudoun found itself in the national spotlight over issues like school safety and her handling of two sex assaults at two different high schools in 2021.
Biberaj will face Republican Bob Anderson, who held the commonwealth attorney’s post in Loudoun more than 20 years ago, in November.
Biberaj’s race was one of three in northern Virginia where candidates elected as reformers in 2019 faced primary challenges.
"Thank you to Loudoun Democrats for nominating me for a second term as Commonwealth’s Attorney," Biberaj said in a statement after her race was announced. "Thank you to Elizabeth Lancaster for running, and I look forward to working together as Loudoun County Democrats to win in November.
"Four years ago, Loudoun County made history by electing the first Democratic Commonwealth’s Attorney in 24 years. We have made major progress over those four years, turning around an outdated system that was costing taxpayers money, failing to provide necessary resources to victims and not making us safer. We’ve brought progress to Loudoun over the past 4 years, doubling the number of Special Victims Unit attorneys to support domestic violence and sexual assault victims, expanding programs for mental health and veterans, and bringing a smarter approach to justice that saved our taxpayers millions of dollars. And, we’ve seen the results. In Loudoun County, safety is up and crime is down. Violent crime has dropped 31% since 2019, and we’ve taken action to decrease recidivism and support victims.
"My Republican opponent ran the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in the 1990s, and he wants to bring back the old way of doing things that cost taxpayers money and failed to provide the services we need. This election is a choice between going back to the past on criminal justice, or continuing to build on the progress we’ve made since 2019.
"We know that MAGA Republicans have made Loudoun County a target, and they will do anything they can to try to stop our progress. They launched disinformation campaigns - and they failed. They launched 3 recall campaigns - and they failed. They tried to intervene in this primary - and they failed. And we will make sure that they fail again in November, and that Loudoun voters have the final decisions about how justice works in our county. I look forward to highlighting the key choice ahead of Loudoun voters, and to continuing to make our community safer and fairer for all."
In Arlington County, incumbent Parisa Dehghani-Tafti defeated challenger Josh Katcher, who had been one of Dehghani-Tafti’s deputies before leaving the office.
Dehghani-Tafti is overwhelmingly favored in heavily Democratic Arlington County in November.
Biberaj and Dehghani-Tafti’s races were two of three in northern Virginia where candidates elected in 2019 as reformers faced primary challenges in which the challengers themselves largely embraced reform efforts and focused criticism on issues of day-to-day office management.
Political analysts often look to Virginia’s odd-year elections for insights on voter sentiment heading into midterm and presidential years. This year, the prosecutor races in northern Virginia might shed light on whether suburban voters are still committed to criminal justice reform after years of Republican criticism that reformers are soft on crime.
In Fairfax County, incumbent Steve Descano defeated Ed Nuttall, a former prosecutor and trial attorney who is best known for representing police officers accused of misconduct.
Lancaster, a former public defender, faced skepticism from some Democrats because she currently works for a law firm led by a prominent local Republican. But Lancaster said her career as a public defender highlighted her commitment to reform, particularly her longstanding efforts to revamp the county’s juvenile justice system.
In their campaigns, the challengers have questioned the incumbents’ day-to-day management of their offices and have, to varying degrees, endorsed the need for criminal justice reform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.