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‘I’m too busy:’ Holcomb rules out Senate bid

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said not to expect a showdown between himself and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks in the 2024 Senate primary.

The governor, who is term-limited next year, said he wants to focus on his current job rather than try to balance his duties with a run for federal office. His comments came following an event Wednesday morning with Pacers Sports & Entertainment outside Lucas Oil Stadium.

“If I was sitting around throwing pencils in the ceiling tile, maybe I would have had time to think about something else but, right now, I’m going to finish the job that I started,” he said.

Holcomb is the latest high-profile Republican to decline to challenge Banks for the Senate. Banks is running to succeed Sen. Mike Braun, who is leaving office to seek Holcomb’s job. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels has already ruled out a Senate bid, as has Rep. Victoria Spartz. Banks already has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Reps. Greg Pence and Larry Bucshon, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, and 15 of the 48 Republicans serving in the U.S. Senate. Federal campaign finance data show Banks’ campaign had more than $2.2 million on hand at the end of March.

Republican strategist and “All INdiana Politics” contributor Whitley Yates said it’s not safe to say Holcomb’s announcement hands Banks the nomination, but any challengers would face an uphill battle. Banks currently faces only token opposition.

Holcomb’s announcement is not unusual. Since 1972, only two Indiana governors, Edgar Whitcomb and Evan Bayh, have run for the Senate. Whitcomb, who had already left office, lost the 1976 Senate primary to Dick Lugar while Bayh served two full terms.

Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl in a statement called Holcomb’s decision a sign of how extreme the Republican Party has become. “Governor Holcomb is an incumbent governor who won 89 out of Indiana’s 92 counties just a few years ago in his reelection campaign,” he said. “In normal times, he could easily beat a wacky congressman in a primary. But these are not normal times.”

Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer in a statement praised Holcomb’s decision to focus on his current job. “With the incredible progress we’ve made in doing just that over the past six and a half years, we believe his record and dedication to the job — not worrying about the next one — will prove to be one of the best in Indiana’s history,” he said.

Holcomb said he has not yet considered what he will do once he leaves office.

Yates said Holcomb will have little trouble finding employment in either the public or private sector once he leaves office. She said his experience bringing economic development to the state would make him an attractive job candidate for major companies.