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Rep. Jim Banks announces run for US Senate

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — U.S. Rep. Jim Banks on Tuesday announced his campaign for U.S. Senate.

Banks, a Republican, has represented Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District since 2017. He was reelected in November after defeating Democrat Gary Snyder and independent Nathan Gotsch but lost the race for House Majority Whip to Minnesota’s Tom Emmer.

The Columbia City native said in December that he was “strongly considering” running in 2024 to replace Republican Sen. Mike Braun, who is running for governor.

Banks’ campaign website calls him “a leader in strengthening our military, securing better care for our veterans, cutting taxes to grow our economy, protecting the right to life, and defending religious freedom.”

“Our nation is at a turning point. We need conservatives in Washington who are not afraid to fight back against the radical socialist Democrats who are trying to change America. I was proud to serve my country in the military, and I have been on the front lines fighting for our conservative Hoosier values in Congress. With your help, I’ll do that in an even bigger way in the United States Senate,” Banks said. “America has given me the opportunity of a lifetime, and our daughters and our sons, they deserve nothing less. That’s why I’m running for the United States Senate.

The Indiana Democratic Party released a statement in response to Banks’ campaign announcement, saying in part:

“Jim Banks failed in his bid to become the Majority Whip for the U.S. House so now he sees the U.S. Senate as a new prize for more political power. Hoosiers shouldn’t be surprised by Banks’s brazen calculation, because he cares more about the Tucker Carlson national cable news circuit than creating a better future for the Hoosier State.

Jim Banks represents exactly what voters despise about politics: someone who will say or do anything to make a buck for themselves and hold onto political power. Hoosiers deserve an elected official who will set aside Washington special interests and focus on creating a better future for everyone in Indiana. Jim Banks would be better suited as a Fox News host – not a U.S. Senator.”

Banks told News 8 Braun’s decision to vacate his seat played a major role in his decision to forego another House term and run for the Senate. He said he believed it was a good opportunity to act on the frustrations he feels at the Senate’s actions.

“I just strongly believe that America is at a crossroads,” he said. “What kind of country are we going to be, leave behind to our kids?”

Hamilton County Republican Party Chair Mario Massillamany said Banks will be a formidable primary opponent. He said Banks’ record and his hardline stances on topics such as immigration and abortion will appeal to the party’s conservative base. Despite this, he said Banks’ entry does not lock up the primary field, particularly vis a vis former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

“My sources are telling me there’s a very good chance (Daniels) runs for the Senate seat,” he said. “I think that if he runs, it’s going to create a very interesting dynamic.”

The conservative group Club for Growth, a longtime supporter of Banks, launched a preemptive attack ad campaign late last week against Daniels. Massillamany said Daniels would still stand a chance of withstanding a challenge from the right thanks to some of the policies he pursued as governor.

Moreover, he said Daniels has the ability to raise a lot of money and he enjoys tremendous name recognition. Massillamany said to watch for any campaign moves by former Congressman Trey Hollingsworth as well.

Congresswoman Victoria Spartz has also signaled interest in running. Massillamany said he suspects she won’t run if Daniels does so as not to split the conservative vote between herself and Banks.