Star of Trump’s first impeachment, Eugene Vindman, wins Democratic House primary in Virginia

Vindman was sitting at more than 50 percent when the outcome of primary was declared

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 19 June 2024 14:45 BST
Comments
Eugene Vindman appears at a campaign event in June 2024 as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s seventh congressional district.
Eugene Vindman appears at a campaign event in June 2024 as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s seventh congressional district. (Facebook: Eugene Vindman)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman has won the Democratic primary in Virginia’s seventh congressional district and will go on to represent his party in November as Democrats hope to keep the seat held by retiring Representative Abigail Spanberger.

The race on Tuesday was called just after 8:00 p.m. with about 15 percent of the vote counted. Vindman was sitting above 50 percent when the outcome was declared; his closest rivals had split the vote and thus failed to break 20 percent. His total shrunk to just under half of the electorate as more votes came in, but his lead remained commanding.

Vindman, 49, is a native of Ukraine and moved with his family to the United States in 1979. He joined the Army, and it was his military service that led him and his brother to working with the White House National Security Council during the Trump administration in 2020.

The brothers were ultimately drawn into the first Trump impeachment saga after they filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump had pushed Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a phone call to open an embarrassing criminal investigation into Joe Biden during the election year. The complaint led to Trump’s first impeachment by the House of Representatives, though he was acquitted in a Senate trial.

The lieutenant colonel’s victory on Tuesday was hardly a surprise: An internal poll released by his campaign earlier this month showed him as the clear favorite, thanks in part to his national prominence at Trump’s first impeachment.

The would-be congressman also entered the race with powerful national allies, including the anti-Trump conservative Lincoln Project as well as California Rep. Adam Schiff, a prominent House Democrat who served as impeachment manager for Donald Trump and later as a member of the bipartisan January 6 investigation.

Eugene Vindman appears at a campaign event in June 2024 as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination in VA-07
Eugene Vindman appears at a campaign event in June 2024 as he campaigns for the Democratic nomination in VA-07 (Facebook: Eugene Vindman)

But what Vindman has won in national support, he has lacked in local political connections. As primary day drew closer, both Democrats and Republicans in Virginia expressed discomfort over his candidacy to The Independent. One writer with a Richmond-based publication described Vindman as having been “airdropped” into the congressional race by leaders in the party from outside of Virginia.

Earlier this month, Clifford Hainzer, a Democratic primary opponent, told The Independent: “It’s not hard to see why there may be some saying, ‘Hey, wait a second, we’ve been out here doing it. Why is [the media] paying so much attention to the candidates who’ve raised the most money instead of the candidates who have been out doing the hard work?’”

Vindman heads into the November election facing quiet concerns from Democrats that he may lack the local political capital necessary to keep the seat in the party. Regardless, all of those who spoke to The Independent, including critics in his own party, said that they planned to support him for the seat with enthusiasm after the primary concluded.

Spanberger, who currently holds the seat, is already campaigning for Virginia governor with the intent of taking the state’s highest office back for the Democrats. Glenn Youngkin, the state’s Republican governor, is limited to one term as governor under state law.

The seventh congressional district is one of Virginia’s purplest and includes parts of the I-95 corridor as well as rural and suburban parts of Stafford County.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in