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This congresswoman was born and raised in Ukraine. She just voted against aid for her homeland

SHERIDAN, Ind. (AP) – Rep. Victoria Spartz, the first and only member of Congress of Ukrainian descent, emerged early as a natural proponent of supporting her native country in its war against Russia. But when the House recently voted for an additional $61 billion in support for the war effort, it voted against it.

Instead, she called for greater control of U.S. funds and opposed giving “blank checks” to the Ukrainian cause. She believes U.S. border security should be a top priority.

That puts her more in line with conservative House Republicans and especially voters in her deeply conservative central Indiana congressional district. She is engaged in a tough fight for re-election in the May 7 Republican primary, made even more complicated by her public announcement more than a year ago that she would not seek another term, a decision she then canceled.

The aid package, part of a larger bill that also included aid to Israel, Taiwan and other global hotspots, was approved by the House on April 20, the Senate Tuesday and signed into law by President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

Spartz said she was “a little dismayed” that her heritage could dictate her support for the Ukrainian cause if she felt the money would be wasted.

“My responsibility is to protect the American people,” she said in a recent interview.

Spartz spoke at an event hosted by the Hamilton County GOP at a community center in Sheridan, Indiana, a town of a few thousand people. The event, held in a venue just off the city’s Main Street, featured eight of the nine GOP primary candidates, who were able to make their case to voters and Republican officials in the county, one at a time, during a meeting that also included short speeches from the candidates.

Mike Murphy, a former Indiana state representative and political commentator, said in a phone interview that funding Ukraine isn’t really a priority for Republican voters these days. Concerns about the southern border are a bigger catalyst for turnout, something not lost on candidates in the conservative district. Most of Spartz’s opponents in the 5th District seat have said protecting the U.S.-Mexico border should be a bigger priority than sending money to Ukraine.

“They all want to be as much like Trump as possible,” Murphy said.

Border security was hammered during the state representative’s campaign. Chuck Goodrich, the best financed of Spartaz’s eight challengers. He attacked Spartz over her initial support for Ukraine, saying she prioritized “Ukraine.”

Goodrich, who attended Sheridan’s event, acknowledged that Indiana is far from Mexico, but said illegal drugs such as fentanyl enter the United States through the southern border and pose a threat to the heart of the country.

“Every state is a border state,” he said in an interview.

Spartaz beat a crowded 2020 primary field with Donald Trumpwith almost 40% of the votes. She ran unopposed in the 2022 primaries.

Spartz made things more difficult for herself when she announced in early 2023 that she would not run again, citing fatigue from Washington politics and her desire to spend more time with her family. She also threatened to resign if the national debt problem was not resolved.

For an entire year, that left the floor open for candidates to campaign in one of the state’s most conservative districts, made up of a mix of rural and suburban counties north of Indianapolis. Trump easily took the district in 2020, and it was redistricted to favor Republicans more that same year.

Campaign finance reports show Spartz lags behind Goodrich in campaign funds, in part because Goodrich invested $2.6 million of his own money. Goodrich, who represents the wealthy Indianapolis suburb of Hamilton County in the state Legislature, spent $1.9 million more than Spartz in the first three months of 2024 and lent to his campaign a total of $4.6 million, according to reports.

Spartz entered the final weeks before the primary with $134,000 in cash, compared to Goodrich’s $1.3 million.

Trump did not support the 5th District this year. He has been ambivalent about aid to Ukraine, saying the war would not have happened if he had been president and that any support should come in the form of loans rather than grants.

Even with Spartz’s short campaign period, she maintains the office advantage. She accused Goodrich of cozying up to China and called him a “Republican in name only.”

With Trump’s Republican nomination for president, turnout is expected to be low.

Spartz, 45, immigrated to the United States in 2000 after meeting her husband from Indiana on a train in Europe. She started as a bank teller, later taught as an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and owns farm property.

After a longtime senator retired before the end of his term, Hamilton County Republican officials chose Spartz, who was involved in the county party, to serve out his term in 2017. She served three sessions at the Statehouse before his election to Congress.

In an emotional press conference in 2022, Spartz called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “genocide”. She described the bombings her grandmother and friends had witnessed in Ukraine.

Later that year, she began criticizing Ukraine’s leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the Sheridan interview, Spartz said “brave people” were “dying for freedom” in Ukraine, but accused the Ukrainian government of corruption.

During his speech to voters, Spartz made no mention of the war in Ukraine. Instead, she framed the stakes in her re-election as a fight against the party’s hypocrisy, saying some of her fellow Republicans are behaving like socialists.

Drawing on her childhood experience in the Soviet Union, as she often did throughout her political career, she warned of a socialist future in the United States.

“I will fight the just fight,” she said.

News Source : www.yahoo.com
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