Oct 4, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Vindman twin eyes congressional bid as a Democrat

Vindman at a VoteVets event on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Photo: Hans Nichols/Axios

Yevgeny "Eugene" Vindman — the National Security Council official whose twin brother, Alexander, was a star witness in former President Trump's first impeachment — is actively considering a run for Congress as a Democrat in northern Virginia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The campaign would give Democrats the opportunity to reward Vindman with a seat in Congress, after the Trump White House fired the then-Army lieutenant colonel from his NSC job as a senior lawyer and ethics official.

  • If Vindman emerges from the primary, he will become another frontline soldier in Democrats' broader attempt to make the 2024 election a referendum on Trump's presidency and threats to democracy.
  • Born in Ukraine, both Vindmans have been forceful advocates for continued military assistance to help Kyiv fend off Russia's invasion.

"I'm focused on Ukraine funding. I'm focused on war crimes now," Vindman told Axios when asked about his campaign plans at a VoteVets event Tuesday. "That's all I'm focused on."

Driving the news: Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) announced last month that she wouldn't run for a fourth term in Virginia's 10th congressional district after being diagnosed with a rare and debilitating neurological disorder.

  • That has opened up a seat that leans Democratic in the northern Virginia suburbs — an enticing opportunity to become a member of Congress without a long commute.
  • In addition to Vindman, state Rep. Dan Helmer, a Democrat who currently represents part of the districts, could decide to run.
  • Jessica Post, who formerly served as president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, is also a potential candidate.

What they're saying: "He would definitely be a serious candidate," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), pointing to Vindman's ability to raise money at the national level. "The question is whether he would have a base in an election like that."

  • "The interesting thing about our region is that you get both state and local officials who've been deeply involved in electoral politics, and then you get people who come into races for Congress more as national kinds of figures," said Raskin. "That's what a Vindman candidacy would be."
  • "I think veterans running for office — local, state, federal — is a healthy dynamic in our democracy," said Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.).

The big picture: Democrats, from the president on down, want to make 2024 not just about Trump, but about the threat to democracy they say he and other "MAGA extremists" pose.

  • Recruiting veterans and national security officials is central to that effort.
  • "We have to stand up for America's values embodied in our Declaration of Independence because we know MAGA extremists have already proved they won't," Biden said in a major speech in Arizona last week.

Between the lines: The Vindman twins were born in Soviet Ukraine and rose through the Army's officer corps together after moving to the U.S. as refugees.

  • In 2019, Alexander, as a top Europe official on the NSC, listened in on the infamous phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a "favor" to investigate then-former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • Alarmed at the possible illegality of Trump's request and the implications for U.S. support to Ukraine, Alexander notified Eugene and another NSC lawyer.

Alexander went on to testify in the House's impeachment proceedings, triggering threats and allegations of disloyalty from Trump allies.

The intrigue: Both brothers have become openly political since leaving the military, working with VoteVets, a progressive PAC that works to get Democrats elected.

  • Last week at a VoteVets fundraiser at Joselito, a Spanish restaurant on Capitol Hill, both twins met and mingled with lawmakers.
  • Eugene currently resides in Woodbridge, Va, just outside the 10th district's border.
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