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In Deep Red West Virginia, both U.S. Senate candidates heavily support Ukraine

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(The Center Square) – In West Virginia’s ongoing U.S. Senate race, Republican nominee Jim Justice and Democratic nominee Glenn Elliott have strongly favored financially supporting Ukraine – despite its growing unpopularity among Republicans and the state’s heavy conservative lean.

Justice and Elliot won the Republican and Democratic nominations, respectively, in the senatorial primary on May 14. Their records indicate strong support for Ukraine during its war against Russia, despite calls from many conservative and Republicans to end such support, with Congress having authorized $175 billion of aid since 2022.

As West Virginia’s incumbent governor, Justice requested $5 million from the state legislature in 2022 to aid Ukraine during the initial days of the war, which he said would support a maternity and children’s hospital in that country. Justice also donated several armored personnel carriers from the West Virginia National Guard to Ukraine and directed state law enforcement agencies to send their surplus bulletproof vests to the country.

“In West Virginia, we stand up for what’s right, which is why we stand united with Ukraine in every way,” Justice said in 2022 of his decisions. “We must take action to show solidarity and support at any level we can.”

Similarly, Elliott, the mayor of Wheeling – a town in the state panhandle between Ohio and Pennsylvania – has taken a strong position in favor of Ukraine. He supports more U.S. military and financial aid to the country.

“I do believe that supporting Ukraine financially and militarily in their war against [Russia President Vladimir] Putin’s dangerous authoritarianism is critical for our national security interests,” Elliott told the Center Square. “We must support Ukraine’s efforts now as a broader effort to protect other European nation’s sovereignty.”

Justice’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Center Square.

Justice and Elliott’s support for Ukraine comes amid widespread hostility to the idea among conservatives and Republicans nationwide. Over 60% of Republicans believe the U.S. should not send more aid to the country, according to a CBS/YouGov poll in April – a figure that includes 55% of non-“MAGA” voters, referring to those Republicans who do not support Donald Trump’s brand of populism.

West Virginia is a heavily conservative state with a strong Republican lean. The state has a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) score of R+22 – meaning that Justice and Elliott will likely have to court Ukraine-skeptic GOP voters in the state.

The controversy among conservatives in Congress over aiding Ukraine boiled over in April, when both houses passed a $95 billion supplemental foreign aid package that included over $60 billion for Ukraine. The bill was strongly opposed by many conservative and populist Republicans, though was supported by most of West Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, among the most ardent critics of U.S. funding of Ukraine in Congress, called U.S aid to the country a “heaping, steaming pile of b******t” and attempted to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson from office after the vote.

Reasons for rank-and-file GOP opposition to Ukraine are varied, with many claiming that the U.S. must instead spend money on border security amid high levels of illegal crossings of the border.

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