Democrat Biberaj concedes in hard-fought northern Virginia prosecutor race

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A high-profile Democratic prosecutor in northern Virginia who pursued progressive reforms and drew criticism from Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin conceded defeat Wednesday in her reelection bid.

Buta Biberaj's narrow loss to Republican Bob Anderson in the race for Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney gave the Virginia GOP one of its most significant wins this election in an otherwise poor performance that saw Democrats win control of both houses of the state Legislature.

Biberaj conceded a day after the Loudoun County Board of Elections finished counting all ballots. Late absentee and provisional ballots narrowed Biberaj's deficit from roughly 1,000 votes to just 300 votes out of more than 135,000 ballots cast.

Biberaj could have requested a recount under state law, but she said at a news conference Wednesday in Leesburg that she thought it was better to use the next two months to ensure a smooth transition.

She said she was proud of her office's efforts to reduce crime, promote diversity and develop “a better, more humane approach to safety and justice.”

Biberaj was among a wave of reform prosecutors who won election in Virginia four years ago, drawing significant financial support from a political action committee funded by billionaire George Soros.

In 2021, Loudoun County — a suburb of Washington, D.C., and one of the state's most populous jurisdictions — became a flashpoint in the national debate over parental rights in education and how school systems should treat transgender students. Biberaj drew ire from Youngkin and other conservatives after her office prosecuted the father of a girl who was sexually assaulted in a high school bathroom by a boy wearing a skirt.

Biberaj said the prosecution for disorderly conduct was appropriate after Smith got into a confrontation with sheriff's deputies at an unruly school board meeting. Youngkin said the father should never have been prosecuted and pardoned him earlier this year as the case was being appealed.

Anderson, who served as Loudoun's top prosecutor from 1996 through 2003, spent just $70,000 on his campaign, compared to more than $1.1 million spent by Biberaj, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

"I am honored to lead this office again as Commonwealth’s Attorney-Elect for Loudoun County and deliver on my promise of restoring transparency and protecting our community from violent crime,” he said in a written statement.