Arlington’s Dark Money Candidate

Parisa Dehgani-Tafti

by Liam Bissainthe

Virginia has primary elections coming up tomorrow. Some matter a lot, and you should vote in them if you have the chance — like the prosecutor’s race in Arlington County and Falls Church. That race pits left-wing radical Parisa Dehghani-Tafti against the moderately liberal incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington and Falls Church. In Virginia, you can vote in whichever primary you want — Democratic or Republican — without registering, regardless of which party you’ve voted for in the past.

The left-wing radical Dehghani-Tafti received a staggering sum of money — $583,237 — from a “dark money” group bankrolled by George Soros. So reports the mainstream liberal newspaper the Falls Church News-Press, which has endorsed Stamos. A week ago, the Washington Post reported that Soros’s group had already pumped over $1 million into just two races in Northern Virginia, seeking to replace incumbent Democrats with leftist challengers.

The leftist Dehghani-Tafti wants to lead an office of prosecutors despite never having prosecuted a single case in her life. She does not seem to understand the basic role of a prosecutor in deterring crime. Indeed, she complains about Stamos’s success as a prosecutor. Stamos has never had a single conviction overturned on appeal in her decades as a prosecutor. Stamos’ office prosecutes felonies, rather than ignoring them. That deters violent crime and theft.

Dehghani-Tafti makes that sound like a bad thing, complaining that “Arlington produces felony convictions at two to three times the rate of neighboring counties despite having less crime.” But a willingness to prosecute felonies is why Arlington has less crime. The south side of Chicago has a huge murder rate, in large part because most murderers are never prosecuted and caught.

In high crime jurisdictions, the vast majority of felonies go unprosecuted, emboldening murderers and rapists to commit their crimes. (Most people in America who commit violent crimes never spend a day in jail. And as the Pew Research Center observes, “most violent and property crimes in the U.S. go unsolved.”)

Apparently, Dehghani-Tafti would like to see felonies go unpunished in Arlington as well, given her desire to lower the felony conviction rate.

It is worth noting that Arlington’s felony conviction rate is not unusually high by national standards, even if there are neighboring counties where it is lower. As even Dehghani-Tafti concedes, Arlington has “less crime.” For example, Arlington has a low murder rate and low rape rate compared to Maryland and the District of Columbia, and areas in Virginia with comparable size populations, such as Richmond and Norfolk. It has a much lower crime rate than neighboring Alexandria and Montgomery County, and a slightly lower crime rate than neighboring Fairfax County. It also has a lower crime rate than it used to have.

Dehghani-Tafti complains about “mass incarceration” in Arlington, which is absurd, because Arlington does not incarcerate massive numbers of people. Its incarceration rate has fallen in recent years due to a fall in the crime rate, and is not high by national or state standards. Unlike many counties, whose prosecutors have had convictions reversed on appeal due to trial court error or prosecutorial misconduct, Arlington’s Commonwealth’s Attorney has not had any convictions overturned at all. There are places in Virginia where prosecutors delight in prosecuting certain victimless crimes. Arlington is not among them.

The veteran Democratic political strategist Ben Tribbett reacted to claims by Dehghani-Tafti by describing them as “complete bullshit” and something you could only believe if you were “on another planet.” But Dehgani-Tafti has racked up a number of endorsements from left-wing legislators, who apparently support her soft-on-crime approach. Other officials back Stamos, such as the County Sheriff, Beth Arthur (D), and Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington).

There are a lot of contested Democratic primaries this year in Northern Virginia. In most cases, there is no GOP primary, meaning that Republicans should go vote in the Democratic Primary.

Many of these primaries are of great importance, because they are in districts that the Democrats carry no matter what, meaning that whoever wins the Democratic primary election will be elected in November. In most of the primary races, the challenger is to the left of the incumbent. The left-wing challengers often know little about economics or public policy: a long-time Democratic activist in Fairfax County described the challengers as a “tornado of turds.”

But whoever wins the primary, will likely go on to win the general election, because Democrats totally dominate in Northern Virginia. In all of northern Virginia, the only Republican state delegate left is Tim Hugo. The GOP was virtually annihilated in northern Virginia in the 2017 state legislative election.

Even the self-described “Democratic socialist” Lee Carter, who has been arrested and had three divorces, won the general election in 2017, defeating a senior, uncontroversial GOP member of the House of Delegates in the process. (Carter, unlike most Democratic incumbents, is facing a primary challenge from someone more moderate than he is, rather than someone more ideologically extreme).

In Arlington, left-wing lawyer Dehghani-Tafti is slightly favored to win the race for county prosecutor, despite her radicalism, because of her huge campaign war chest provided by George Soros. But it will likely be a very close primary election. Whoever wins the primary will win the general election, because Republicans no longer win any elections at all in Arlington County. In 2018, the last non-Democrat on the Arlington County Board, John Vihstadt, lost his race for reelection, despite raising plenty of money and having plenty of endorsements from newspapers and prominent local residents.

Vihstadt, a moderate independent who ran with Republican backing, has endorsed Theo Stamos. He has said that the race for Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney will be “very close,” and he called on independents and Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary to reelect Stamos as Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Liam Bissainthe is a real estate investor and recovering attorney.