Eugene Vindman attends a news conference
Eugene Vindman attends a news conferenceTom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A former White House official whose Jewish Ukrainian origins played a prominent role in former US President Donald Trump’s first impeachment hearings won a Democratic congressional primary in Virginia on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the state, two prominent Jewish Democrats failed to secure a win in a primary in the increasingly Democratic Washington D.C. suburbs and exurbs. And efforts by Donald Trump and Jewish Republicans, among others, to oust a hardline conservative incumbent in central Virginia resulted in a Republican primary race too close to call.

Eugene Vindman won the Democratic nomination in the state’s 7th District, which stretches south from Washington’s Virginia exurbs to the state’s center. Vindman came to prominence in 2020 when Trump forced him and his twin brother Alexander out of their jobs as National Security Council staffers.

Both men were officers, and on loan to the White House from the military. Trump had them in his sights after Alexander Vindman in 2019 testified to Congress about the contents of a phone call from Trump to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky in which Trump sought to leverage aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden, who was gearing up to face Trump in the 2020 election.

The phone call led to Trump’s first impeachment; he was acquitted in the Senate. The Vindman twins had arrived as children from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. Vindman’s role in the impeachment drama helped elevate his candidacy to being by far the best funded.

Vindman hopes to replace Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is running for governor. The 7th district is a swing district and he now faces Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret who had the backing of the Republican party establishment.

In the race in central Virginia, meanwhile, challenger John McGuire was a few hundred votes ahead of Rep. Bob Good. Race watchers said it would likely be Friday before a winner would be announced in the district.

Whether or not Good survives the vote, McGuire’s strong showing was the result of an alliance of strange bedfellows: Trump, the former president who would not forgive Good for initially backing Florida Gov. DeSantis in the primaries; former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who blamed Good, the chairman of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, for ousting him from the speakership last year; and the Republican Jewish Coalition, shocked into action by the growing number of Republicans buying into Good’s resistance to supplemental aid for Israel.

National media cast that expensive race as a referendum on whether incumbent Republicans couldn’t survive without paying absolute fealty to Trump, who is running again this year.

Pro-Israel groups see Good’s argument on Israel aid — demanding offsets in exchange for the funding — as a slippery slope to eroding assistance for Israel and turning it into a political football. Good is notably the only incumbent RJC is targeting this year. McGuire, who like Good embraces Trump’s denial of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, is equally as conservative, but is committed to funding Israel’s defense.

In the 10th District, encompassing areas of northern Virginia which have in recent years attracted Jews to its government contract work and its tech sector, a crowded race to replace retiring Democratic incumbent Rep. Jennifer Wexton included Eileen Filler-Corn, who made history as the first woman and the first Jewish speaker of the state’s House of Delegates, and State Del. Dan Helmer.

Both were defeated by State Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, who had the backing of Wexton, who is retiring because of illness. When Wexton won the district in 2018 it was seen as a swing district, but it is now ranked as safe for Democrats.

Filler-Corn, who came in fourth, ended her term as leader of the Democratic caucus in 2022 on bad terms with other delegates, which cut into what she had hoped would be an easy run. Helmer, who came in second, was plagued in the final days of the campaign with an allegation — which he denied — that he had sexually harassed a campaign volunteer when he ran for the same seat in 2018.

Pro-Israel money poured into the race in part because of Filler-Corn’s longstanding bona fides with the pro-Israel community, but also because there were other candidates who called for restrictions on defense funding for Israel. Subramanyam has forcefully defended Israel in its war against Hamas. In an online forum last month convened by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, he said Hamas should not survive the war it launched against Israel on Oct. 7.

“I want to see an end to this war, and I’d like to see a situation that involves the enduring defeat of Hamas,” said Subramanyam, who has visited Israel. He said he supported “a two state solution long term, but Hamas can’t be one of the states.”

Such declarations meant his win drew a sigh of relief from some of Filler-Corn’s backers, despite her defeat.

“By nominating a proud pro-Israel candidate, Democrats in Virginia’s 10th District have proven once again that being pro-Israel is not just wise policy, but also winning politics,” said a statement from the Democratic Majority for Israel, whose political action committee had backed Filler-Corn.