Apr 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

AIPAC targets Republican Israel critic in rare GOP primary play

Former Rep. John Hostettler, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and gray tie and holding up a pencil during a committee hearing.

Former Rep. John Hostettler on March 25, 2003. Photo: Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images.

United Democracy Project, the super PAC of pro-Israel group AIPAC, is launching more than $500,000 in ads against former Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) in his bid to return to Congress, a spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: It's a rare intervention in a GOP primary by the PAC, which tends to focus on opposing left-wing Israel critics or supporting moderate Israel supporters in Democratic primaries.

State of play: Hostettler, a hardcore conservative who served in Congress from 1995 to 2007, is running in Indiana's 8th district to succeed retiring Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.).

  • One of just a half dozen House Republicans who voted against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Hostettler posited in his self-published book that the war was an effort to benefit Israel.
  • Hostettler is one of eight Republicans running for the safely GOP seat, including former Indiana State Senate Majority Leader Mark Messmer.

What they're saying: "Hostettler was one of the most anti-Israel members of Congress while he served," UDP spokesperson Patrick Dorton told Axios.

  • "Our number one goal is to prevent detractors of the U.S.-Israel relationship from being elected to Congress."
  • Hostettler's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zoom in: The 30-second ad hits Hostettler for voting against a 2000 resolution expressing support for Israel and condemning Palestinian leaders over the violence of the second Intifada.

  • It also cites his numerous votes against providing military aid to Israel.
  • "With Israel under attack, we can't send John Hostettler to Congress," the ad says.
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