Liberal billionaire George Soros picked up two wins in Virginia this week when two prosecutor candidates he backed ousted incumbents in local Democratic primaries – after he poured nearly a million dollars into their campaigns.
Soros, known for backing left-wing causes across the globe, used his Justice and Public Safety PAC to boost two liberal candidates against incumbent Democrats.
He backed Parisa Dehghani-Tafti to beat Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos, and supported former Justice Department employee Steve Descano in his race against Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond Morrogh. Campaign finance reports show Dehghani-Tafti received $583,000 and Descano received $392,000 just from that PAC. Meanwhile, Stamos and Morrogh raised $162,000 and $242,000, respectively, for their entire campaigns.
The money gave Tafti and Descano a significant financial advantage over the incumbents, despite their lack of experience. The Washington Post reported that while the two challengers have never prosecuted a case in a state court, they beat candidates with more than 60 years of experience between them.
Both were also boosted by Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who said Stamos and Morrogh pushed back against his effort to restore voting rights of convicted felons after they serve their time. But supporters of the incumbents said the role that money played was significant.
“We were outspent 3 to 1. Our candidate was in the hospital for nearly a week,” Ben Tribbett, a campaign consultant for Morrogh, told the Post. “This is an election that was bought, not won. We are proud of what we did.”
“I think it is foreboding for local elections because we’re going to have people clamoring to get money from George Soros – that’s what I fear greatly,” Karen Darner, a former state delegate who backed Stamos, told the Post.
Both winning candidates have eyed a progressive approach to matters related to criminal justice reform and both have promised not to prosecute marijuana possession cases.
Virginia is one of four states to hold legislative elections this year, and is seen as a bellwether for future national elections.
The Washington Free Beacon notes that Soros has funded attorney and prosecutor candidates in states including California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and New Mexico. His preferred candidates have for the most part won their races.
In 2017, he pumped nearly $1.5 million into the Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC, which supported candidate Larry Krasner in the Democratic primary for a Pennsylvania district attorney election. Krasner won by a wide margin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.