Paid subscribers to the Virginia Scope Political Newsletter received this story first.

by Brandon Jarvis

Fairfax Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano was strongly considering a run for attorney general next year — but he decided to forego that and endorse Jay Jones for the Democratic nomination instead.

Descano discussed why he decided not to run for attorney general during an interview with Virginia Scope Friday. He also discussed the constant attacks his office receives from Republicans for his criminal justice reform policies.

Rumors of Descano entering the attorney general race have been constant in recent years. Many were surprised when he decided to back Jones instead.

“I will admit that this was a thing that I looked at. I had a lot of people reach out to me who were interested in me doing it. I am always interested in doing the best I can for the most people and maximizing my impact. But at the end of the day, I’m always fully cognizant that none of these races, and this race in particular, is not about me. Right? When I take a look at what we need to do here in 2025, what we need to do as Democrats is to coalesce. We need to put a strong ticket together that is going to attract people to take back these three statewide seats. Because we’ve lived under this Republican yoke for the last four years, and it’s no good.”

Descano believes the best chance for Democrats to win the Office of the Attorney General is for everyone to get behind Jones.

“I think it just became clear to me that with winning being important, Jay is the man for this moment. Jay is the person who is going to be able to get the party to coalesce around him because he lives our democratic values in a way that I really respect. When people hear him talk about how he plans to protect them from companies who will put out harmful products just to make an extra buck, he’s the person who’s going to keep them safe. When he talks about how he has fought and will fight for abortion rights and women’s reproductive health care — I think that’s going to be really, really attractive to a lot of voters. He is somebody I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with on many occasions, on a thing I care a lot about, which is criminal justice reform, making our system fair and equitable while keeping us safe. When you add all of these things together, it becomes really clear that Jay is the man for this moment. He is not only going to be a hell of an attorney general, but as a candidate, he’s going to attract the attention and the people that we need to win in 2025, which is the most important thing for Democrats.”

Jones has not officially launched a campaign, but he has received endorsements from a long list of legislators who are supporting a movement to encourage him to run. Virginia’s two previous Democratic governors, Ralph Northam and Terry McAuliffe, have also announced their support for him. Northam is leading the movement to encourage Jones to run.

Descano believes that Democrats need to tell voters how a Democratic attorney general will improve their lives in order to win the election next year.

“I think one of the biggest things that Democrats have to do in that race, in particular, is really draw hard contrast with the nonsense that has been going on in Jason Miyares’ office. Let’s be crystal clear about it: Jayson Miyares is somebody who should not be attorney general. He is out of his depth. That attorney general’s office has become — not an instrument to do justice and protect people in Virginia — but an instrument to get Jason Miyares on Fox News so he can spew a whole bunch of nonsense lies and right-wing talking points. I don’t know how he has time to do anything else? I think Democrats need to draw that hard contrast. If we can get out there and tell people how the Attorney General’s Office is going to do what it’s supposed to do, which is use the law to make their life better, I think that’s how we win that race.”

Descano is often the target of Republican angst due to the criminal justice reform policies that he enacted since first winning the position in 2019. After facing and winning a primary campaign from a more moderate Democrat last year, he was easily reelected in the November general election.

“I’ll be very, very honest here. I love it when they come for me, and if they’re listening, bring it on because this is what I was made for. They come for me because I put up with no nonsense. What Republicans do is they go out there and they try to lie to voters, they try to fool them into thinking their ideas and what they’ve done are good, when everybody with a working set of eyes knows that what Youngkin and Miyares are doing is not working for everyday Virginians. The thing that really gets them riled up is that I live my values. I talk about progressive criminal justice reform, and I go out there and do it, and I do it successfully. So they have to attack me because they can’t explain me. If you take a look at what we’ve accomplished here in Fairfax County, we’ve made our criminal justice system more fair and more just. At the same time, Fairfax County is the safest large county in the entire country; we have shown that what we are doing works. They attack me because I’m winning — they attack me because I’m showing it can be done.

Republicans say that Descano’s reform policies make him soft on crime.

“I hear that a lot. I want to tell these people that it is not about being nice or mean to people who commit crimes. What I do is what works. I am somebody who is constantly in data, constantly in the research — It is how I make my decisions. What we are doing here are the things that work, lower recidivism and build community safety. What I ask of those Republicans is, why are you being so ideological when you’re dealing with this problem? I think that Republicans do a lot of projecting, and they like to project ideology on me, when in reality, it is people like Jason Miyares, day in and day out, who spew this ideology that is the tough on crime nonsense. That’s nonsense, not because it’s mean, but because it doesn’t work. We have decades and decades showing that this stuff doesn’t work — but these Republicans are too ideological. They know that this is how they scare the people into voting for them. So even though it has been failure after failure and wasted money after wasted money, they will continue down this line because they are being ideological. And me, as a local elected official who prides myself on getting stuff done, I do what works. And that’s the reason why we’ve had the success here in Fairfax County that we’ve had.”

By vascope