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Former federal prosecutor announces run for commonwealth’s attorney in Fairfax County, Va.

A former federal prosecutor formally announced Tuesday that he was running for commonwealth’s attorney in Fairfax County as an independent, emphasizing his nearly two decades of experience and saying he would focus on “public safety, not politics.”

Jonathan Fahey, 48, of Falls Church, Va., said in a speech on the steps of Fairfax County’s former courthouse that his top priorities would be gang violence and the opioid crisis if he is elected in November and that he would forge a strong relationship with law enforcement.

Fahey positioned himself as a moderate, drawing sharp contrasts between himself and his opponent, Steve T. Descano, who was part of a progressive wave that unseated longtime incumbent prosecutors Raymond F. Morrogh in Fairfax and Theo Stamos in Arlington County during June’s Democratic primary. No Republican candidate is running in the general election.

Fahey, who was flanked by many of Morrogh’s deputy prosecutors during his speech, praised Morrogh’s professionalism and said he agreed with his approach on a range of issues. He said he was motivated to enter the race by Morrogh’s surprising loss.

Descano, a former federal prosecutor himself, ran on a program of reform that includes dropping marijuana possession prosecutions, ending use of the death penalty and discontinuing cash bail. His campaign was bolstered by hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending by a political action committee funded by the Democratic megadonor George Soros.

[Northern Virginia voters endorse a new mandate on criminal justice]

Fahey called Descano’s agenda “radical” and said “absolutely the community will be less safe” if Descano is elected. He said Soros’s lavish spending on the race meant Descano would not be an independent voice.

“He doesn’t want to prioritize the rights of victims,” Fahey said. “He wants to prioritize defendants.”

Fahey, who grew up in Fairfax County, spent 17 years as a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, handling gang, murder and drug cases before retiring last month. He also spent two years as an assistant prosecutor in the office of the commonwealth’s attorney in Fairfax County. He is married and has three children.

Fahey has picked up endorsements from figures including Stamos, retiring Prince William County prosecutor Paul Ebert and former Fairfax County police chief Doug Scott. Morrogh did not respond to inquiries about whom he would endorse in the November election.

Descano launched a blistering attack on Fahey in a statement, tying him to the president. Descano called Fahey “Donald Trump’s drug policy lawyer” and said Fahey does not reflect the values of liberal-leaning Fairfax County.

“He is bringing Trump’s hateful message of fear and bigotry to our community hoping to scare Fairfax County voters into not showing up to vote for reform this November,” Descano said in his statement. “Unfortunately for him, his former boss, and his Republican backers, the people of Fairfax County know better and aren’t so easily fooled.”

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