Defeated Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate endorses write-in campaign

Defense attorney Ed Nuttall at his campaign announcement for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney in February (via ABC7)

The official ballots for next week’s general election identify just one candidate for the job of top prosecutor in Fairfax County, but a group that identifies itself as victims’ rights supporters hopes to push another man into the office instead.

Defense attorney Ed Nuttall, who lost the Democratic primary in June to incumbent Steve Descano, officially endorsed a write-in campaign last week that seeks to make him the next Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

According to a press release, the former county prosecutor agreed to publicly back the write-in push on Oct. 24 after the Fairfax County Democratic Committee removed him from the party, allegedly for attending a Brain Foundation fundraiser on Oct. 18 that featured Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and Sully District supervisor candidate Keith Elliott — both Republicans.

“If the work of the write-in group is successful, Ed Nuttall would accept the job as Commonwealth’s Attorney serving Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax,” the Oct. 28 press release said.

Nuttall said the FCDC had also urged him “to denounce the write-in campaign on my behalf started by a victims rights group,” but he “refused to do so.”

“I was told more than once by more than one person to ‘resign for the good of the party,'” Nuttall said in an Oct. 25 Facebook post. “I chose not to do so because I’ve always put people over party. Those who know me know that disability rights and public safety have always been my passion, personally and professionally. I won’t let politics dictate how I act or whom I choose to work with, no matter the political price.”

The FCDC declined to comment when contacted by FFXnow, but chair Bryan Graham told WJLA that Nuttall’s attendance at a fundraiser supporting Republican candidates violated his pledge to the committee.

A spokesperson for Descano’s campaign also declined to comment.

According to its website, the write-in campaign for Nuttall was organized by “Fairfax County and Fairfax City voters” who supported his candidacy in the July 20 primary, which he lost by just over 10,000 votes.

“We waited for a couple of months for the current Commonwealth’s Attorney to implement action items brought to his attention during the primary campaign,” the campaign says. “However, that office continues to be disappointing and being politicized as a referendum.”

Changes sought by the group include oversight for the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, procedural training for prosecutors, and more communication with victims during plea deal negotiations. Spokesperson Scott Birdwell says the recommendations were compiled by 10 families of crime victims after a town hall in May.

The website says the campaign wasn’t authorized by any candidate or political group, but it has been backed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee, which held a rally on Oct. 3 with Herrity, Southern States Police Benevolent Association Fairfax County President Steve Monahan and GOP-endorsed at-large school board candidate Saundra Davis.

Nuttall didn’t “attend the rally as it was held during the day,” according to the Fairfax County Times.

Elected in 2019 on a reform platform, Descano was the subject of two recall efforts in 2021. One was led by the group Stand Up Virginia, which accused the commonwealth’s attorney of failing crime victims, while the other was started by Virginians for Safe Communities, a conservative group that also tried to recall Democratic prosecutors in Loudoun and Arlington.

Virginians for Safer Communities is supporting the write-in campaign for Nuttall, the campaign confirmed. The nonprofit group launched a “five-figure” advertising blitz today (Tuesday), a week before Election Day on Nov. 7.

“The write-in campaign is not a legal entity thus cannot make campaign communications — it has no bank account or legal status,” VSC President Sean Kennedy said. “It is a coalition of victims and concerned citizens. Virginians for Safe Communities…is legally allowed to do so; it has chosen to use its resources to get the word out about the all-volunteer citizen-led effort.”

Nuttall isn’t the only person getting a write-in push for the upcoming election.

Marcia St. John-Cunning is seeking election as an FCDC-endorsed write-in candidate for the Fairfax County School board’s Franconia District seat after a county judge disqualified her last week over an error in her ballot petition, a ruling she called “unprecedented” since early voting has been underway since Sept. 22.

“I am going to keep running because I am passionate about what I have been doing for the past 25 years,” St. John-Cunning said in a press release on Saturday (Oct. 28). “This is not a political move for me. I love our teachers, and our families in Franconia District. So I am proud to say that I am still running to be your representative on the school board.”

Photo via ABC7

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