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Candidates line up to succeed Banks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than a year before the 2024 primary, two high-profile candidates already have launched bids for Rep. Jim Banks’ seat in Congress.

Banks is vacating his seat in the U.S. House to run for that of Sen. Mike Braun, who is, in turn, leaving Congress to run for governor. State Sen. Andy Zay, a Republican from Huntington, and Allen County Judge Wendy Davis both announced their campaigns this month. The two candidates stopped by News 8’s studios to provide an early preview of their plans for “All INdiana Politics.”

Sen. Andy Zay

Zay has served in the Indiana Senate since he was first elected in 2016. He said this experience has given him the policy background other potential candidates lack, particularly when it comes to understanding how federal spending impacts state-level policymaking. Even though the primary is still more than a year away, Zay said now is the time to build a movement and set up a donor network.

“When you look ahead at the prospects of 2024, it could be a very noisy session,” he said, noting the presidential and gubernatorial primaries set for that year.

Zay voted for last year’s bill that banned abortion under nearly all circumstances in Indiana. He said he would support similar legislation at the federal level with no exceptions other than to save the life of the mother.

Banks has criticized the amount of aid going to Ukraine in that country’s fight against Russia’s invasion. Zay charted a different course. He said while he’s wary of sending large amounts of cash to the country, he favors providing Ukraine with military equipment so long as it is done strategically.

Zay worked on legislation surrounding small modular reactors during his time in the legislature and he said he would push for similar legislation at the federal level. He said doing this would help lower electricity rates and provide a stable domestic energy source.

Judge Wendy Davis

Davis served for 12 years as an Allen County circuit court judge before stepping down from the bench this month to run for Congress. She said she has grown tired of reacting to policy issues in her courtroom and instead wants to tackle those issues proactively.

Davis’ campaign website deals extensively with the issue of fentanyl and opioid abuse. She told News 8 the federal government needs to treat addicts differently from dealers. She said the criminal justice system needs to do a better job of connecting addicts with mental health services to better treat underlying issues.

Like Zay, Davis differed from Banks on Ukraine aid. She said if Russia prevails in Ukraine, that might embolden China to attack Taiwan, which in turn could inspire Russian incursions into NATO allies in Europe such as Poland.

Davis said she would push for a balanced federal budget every year if elected.

“We are needlessly spending in Washington, D.C. I think a lot of the American people have no idea how the federal government is needlessly spending on the craziest things,” she said.

The congressional primary will be in May 2024.

“All INdiana Politics” airs at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on WISH-TV.