A new ‘litmus test’ arises in the Republican Party primaries: aid to Ukraine| Trending Viral hub

Additional funding to help Ukraine wage its war against Russia has divided Republicans on Capitol Hill, but it is also dividing candidates and voters in the Republican primaries.

The last example occurs on the outskirts of Indianapolis, where a narrator in an ad that recently aired in Indiana’s 5th district says: “Why does Victoria Spartaz put Ukraine first? “Chuck Goodrich will put America first.”

The ad by Goodrich, a state lawmaker, criticizes Spartz, a two-term congresswoman, for supporting aid to Ukraine, and features footage of her. in the Oval Office after President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan measure to quickly provide military equipment to Ukraine in 2022.

Although Spartz was born and raised in Ukraine, this is not a one-time attack on her. Opposition to more funding for Ukraine has appeared in television ads in a half-dozen Republican House and Senate primaries so far this year, according to ad tracking company AdImpact. The attacks came as lawmakers look to act on additional aid for Ukraine in the coming weeks.

The first elections of 2024 show that support for Ukraine aid has become a “litmus test” in the GOP primaries, said Pete Seat, former executive director of the Indiana Republican Party and alumnus of the president’s administration. George W. Bush. And as Republican candidates compete to be seen as most aligned with former President Donald Trump, highlighting divisions over aid to Ukraine has become a quick way to show they are true believers in “America First.”

“You don’t have to ask, ‘Do you support Trump or not?’ You just have to ask: ‘Do you support financing Ukraine or not?’” Seat said.

Mixed results

Goodrich’s attack will be tested in Indiana’s May 7 primary. So far, these attacks have had mixed success.

In Alabama’s 1st District, Republican Rep. Barry Moore launched multiple television ads promoting his opposition to aid to Ukraine. He defeated fellow Republican Jerry Carl by 15 points in last month’s primary.

School Freedom Fund, an outside group linked to the conservative Club for Growth, released two ads in the race that mentioned Ukraine, including one with a narrator saying“Ukraine treats America like its ATM” and describes Carl as “its man in Alabama.”

In the Ohio GOP primary, Win It Back PAC, another outside group tied to the Club for Growth, launched an ad against state Sen. Matt Dolan, suggesting that Dolan “would be Ukraine’s senator, not ours.” The Club’s preferred candidate, businessman Bernie Moreno, defeated Dolan in last month’s primary.

But two anti-incumbent challenges that used the attack last month failed. Former Illinois State Senator Darren Bailey highlighted Republican Representative Mike Bost’s support for aid to Ukraine in an ad as part of his failed campaign against Bost, who had Trump’s backing. In Mississippi, an outside group called America First Priorities was launched. an ad against Republican Senator Roger Wicker on the issue, but Wicker easily won his primary.

The Indiana primary could be the next test for anti-Ukraine relief messages, even when the contrast is not with a specific candidate. Along with Goodrich, Indiana Republican Tim Smith, who is running in the open ruby ​​red 3rd District, also recently launched a television advertisement where Smith says: “Joe Biden cares more about Ukraine’s borders than the United States’.”

Goodrich, Spartz’s main rival in the primary, has made the issue central to his case against Spartz, who reversed his decision retire shortly before the state’s filing deadline.

“Chuck Goodrich’s latest fake ad attacking Victoria Spartz shows that Chuck Goodrich cannot be trusted to tell the truth,” Spartz’s campaign wrote in an email to supporters after the ad aired. The campaign called Goodrich a “lying corrupt RINO” or “Republican in name only,” and noted that Spartz has called for audits of Ukraine funds and opposes a “blank check.”

Some Indiana Republicans said Goodrich’s attack was puzzling, given that Spartz has not been among the leading advocates for more aid to Ukraine, and she has heavily criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“She’s clearly Ukrainian and speaks with an accent,” said Indiana-based Republican strategist Cam Savage, who is not in the race, adding later: “Maybe they just see a cheap opportunity and are willing to take advantage of it.” . “That’s what it feels like to me.”

In a statement, Goodrich campaign spokesman Kyle Kasting said: “Chuck Goodrich believes we should first build the wall and secure the border instead of continuing to send blank checks to Ukraine; “Victoria Spartz supported President Biden and supported $40 billion in aid that, among other things, funded Ukrainian pensions and Ukrainian business bailouts.”

On Wednesday, Spartz responded to Goodrich with an attack ad of his own, accusing him of being soft on China.

A changing Republican Party

The emergence of aid to Ukraine as a major issue reflects a broader shift in the Trump-led Republican Party toward a more isolationist foreign policy, and concern about crossing that wing of the party.

The change has made it difficult for the GOP-controlled House to approve additional aid for Ukraine. Spokesman Mike Johnson suggested the House could address the issue when lawmakers return to the nation’s capital later this month, but his position as president could be threatened if he draws the ire of far-right Republicans.

Seat was confident that additional aid would be approved, largely due to expected support from Democrats. But he was less optimistic that his party would reject isolationist positions, noting that pro-Trump base voters are “tuning off” Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who have been advocating for more aid to Ukraine.

“Until a messenger who (talks to) that base of the party, the base that is today, comes out saying, ‘This is why we care,’ it’s going to be very, very difficult to get more Republican support. ”Seat said.

And, with only eight states having held congressional primaries so far, some Republican lawmakers may be considering the looming threat of attacks over support for additional aid to Ukraine.

“You’re in an election year now, right?” He said savage. “So the way people vote on things is very much aligned with how close they are to their own primaries.”

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