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Israel and Ukraine: Where Nevada GOP Senate candidates stand on foreign aid

Updated April 27, 2024 - 3:03 pm

As a $95 million funding package to aid Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan became law, Republican candidates in Nevada’s closely watched Senate race — where Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is vulnerable — shared their differences over how the U.S. should help its allies.

The funding package will give $61 billion to Ukraine to help in its ongoing war against Russia, $26 billion to wartime assistance for Israel and humanitarian relief to people in Gaza, and $8 billion to Taiwan to counter China in the Indo-Pacific.

Many House Republicans opposed aid to Ukraine and only wanted funding for Israel, while Democrats wanted a bill that included funding for both. In November, Senate Democrats —including Rosen — blocked a Republican-backed bill that would have provided emergency aid to Israel but not Ukraine.

While most Republicans agree about funding Israel’s fight against the terrorist organization Hamas, funding for Ukraine has created a rift in the GOP. Some establishment Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have been strong advocates for aid to Ukraine, arguing that it is important to defend against the encroachment on democracy around the world.

Others, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida have been vocal opponents and advocated for an isolationist approach to foreign policy, more in line with Donald Trump’s “America First” movement. They have argued against overspending and said the package neglects domestic problems.

According to a September 2023 CBS News poll, 61 percent of Republicans do not believe the U.S. should send weapons to Ukraine.

Still, the package passed the Senate with large bipartisan support with a 79-18 vote, with Rosen one of the ayes. How do her Republican opponents feel about it?

In a questionnaire, GOP candidates shared where they stand on aid to Ukraine and Israel. Many echoed sentiments of national GOP elected officers, speaking in favor of aid for Israel, but not so much for Ukraine.

Sam Brown

Sam Brown, the Republican frontrunner in the race who has the backing of national Republicans, including McConnell, said Israel is the U.S.’ greatest ally in the Middle East, “and we must stand by her unequivocally.”

Brown said Congress should stop tying Israel’s security to other bills and immediately pass a standalone funding bill to give Israel the resources to destroy Hamas.

He did not say whether he supports sending aid to Ukraine, but in the past he has been critical of the Biden administration’s continuous funding to Ukraine and has advocated for an audit of the dollars and military equipment it has received.

Jim Marchant

Former Nevada Assemblyman Jim Marchant said the U.S. has a “moral and security obligation to make sure that Israel remains safe and free,” but he does not support aid to Ukraine.

“While the US and its NATO allies must ensure that Putin does not take Ukraine, a territorial dispute of the Donbas region does not warrant the involvement of American dollars or lives,” Marchant said.

Tony Grady

Retired Lt. Col. Tony Grady said the U.S. has a responsibility to Israel, a strong and important ally whose success is good for America.

“Supporting them is in our best interests,” Grady said. “President Biden and the Democrats are tying Israel’s hands behind their backs as they fight a mutual enemy in Hamas. Jacky Rosen should be doing more to stand up to her party and stand with Israel.”

Regarding Ukraine, Grady said the U.S. made a deal with them to protect them against Russia, and it’s in the U.S.’ best interest to have “a strong, successful Ukraine and a weakened Russia.”

Grady said the U.S. can’t have an open checkbook without a strategy, which he says is how the U.S. is operating.

Grady has questions about Biden’s plans in Ukraine, and he will advocate that the Senate hold him accountable for his actions.

Dr. Jeff Gunter, former ambassador to Iceland under the Trump administration, did not return a completed questionnaire to the Review-Journal.

Gunter recently posted on X that the aid package enriches “Ukrainian oligarchs, War Inc, and the corrupt DC swamp.”

Garn Mabey

Garn Mabey Jr., a former Nevada Assemblyman, said that if he were a Ukrainian mother, he would not want his child fighting to retake the parts of Ukraine taken by Russia. He feels that those parts of Ukraine are lost.

“Unless there is a cease fire and agreement between the two countries, this war will last forever and Ukraine will likely lose more territory including the city of Odessa which is an important sea port for them,” Mabey said.

He supports giving Ukraine more assistance only to help them bring about a peace settlement.

“The military industrial complex wants wars and tries to convince us that we should support the war efforts,” he said. “I disagree.”

Mabey said he supports Israel and grieves the suffering of the Palestinian people.

“I will support efforts to bring about a lasting peace,” he said.

Bill Conrad

Bill Conrad, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, said the U.S. should not continue to fund the war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s history is intricate with a combination of geopolitical, historical, and ethnic factors that influences the situation.

“It is challenging to understand the nuances of the conflict entirely, and intervening without a complete grasp of the situation could have unintended consequences that could lead us into a world war,” Conrad said.

He said that Ukraine should not join NATO and instead should act as a buffer state between NATO and Russia. The U.S. and NATO should work together to facilitate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, he said.

Stephanie Phillips

Stephanie Phillips, a real estate broker, called Biden’s Ukraine policy a disaster and said she does not support sending more money to Ukraine.

“We keep sending equipment and American tax dollars to fund what is another ‘endless’ war,” she said. Phillips wants to see a complete audit of the funds sent to Ukraine.

She supports Israel and their right to defend themselves, she said.

“They are our greatest ally in the Middle East and we need to support their efforts to destroy Hamas and any terrorist organization that is a threat to killing innocent lives,” Phillips said.

Ronda Kennedy

Attorney Ronda Kennedy does not support aid to Ukraine and said the U.S. doesn’t know where that money ends up, but she said she does support Israel.

Barry Lindemann

Barry Lindemann, an asset manager, said he supports Israel and is in favor of limited support to Ukraine.

“It is time that the Western European nations of NATO step in and make a stand to show that any aggressor will be repelled by the collective,” he said. “The U.S. may provide military support in the form of equipment but little more.”

Eddie Hamilton

Eddie Hamilton, a longtime political candidate, said most of the foreign assistance should be in the form of low interest loans instead of free cash. He wants to reduce aid to Ukraine and said it should be ended soon through diplomacy.

He supports Israel’s effort to eradicate the Hamas terrorists, but he would only support military assistance to Israel if it is not used to kill more non-combatant civilians.

Vincent Rego

Vincent Rego, a driver in Las Vegas, said Israel and Ukraine are both of the U.S.’ allies and should be supported every way possible. Both of the countries must produce positive results to continue receiving aid, he said.

“Both countries have the right to defend themselves and declare war should they chose and we as their ally will support them as long (as) they have (a) rule of engagements that respect human lives as they would expect and aid us in our need,” he said.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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