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Rust challenges Banks for GOP Senate nomination

John Rust launches senate bid

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A southern Indiana egg farmer says Jim Banks’ endorsements for Senate are proof he has become an establishment politician and voters need a change.

John Rust officially launched his bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate on Aug. 22. He currently is chairman of the board for Seymour-based Rose Acre Farms, the second largest egg producer in the United States.

Rust said he got into the race primarily due to social issues, specifically transgender issues. In an interview with News 8 for All INdiana Politics, he said he opposes allowing minors to receive gender-affirming care and would vote in favor of a nationwide ban similar to one enacted by state lawmakers this spring. Despite survey data that suggest detransitioning by transgender people is extremely rare and usually in response to outside pressure, Rust says he does not believe young people are capable of understanding the long-term consequences of gender transition procedures.

“No one wants to take any rights away from anyone, but the transgender stuff and the hormones, the surgeries, that’s something that someone that’s not an adult, they cannot understand the consequences that they’re going to have to deal with lifetime for that,” said Rust.

Rust criticized Banks for missing the vote on the bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, a bill that drew opposition from 71 Republicans including fellow Hoosier Rep. Victoria Spartz. He said he wants to fight inflation in Washington by bringing down government spending, something he says he can accomplish by going through the budget line by line.

Banks already has been endorsed by a host of state and national Republican figures, including former President Donald Trump. In an unprecedented move, the Indiana Republican Party endorsed him earlier this summer, nearly a year before the primary takes place. Rust said he’s not worried about taking on Banks in the face of that level of party support.

“I’m running as an outsider. I have never run for political office in my life,” said Rust. “I think that’s what I bring to the table is the experience of a farmer, someone who has worked and accomplished things with lots of other people in Indiana.”

Climate change has dominated headlines so far in 2023. Scientists have logged record heat in the western United States and record warm ocean water off the coast of Florida. Wildfires burning in Canada since March sent smoke into Indiana’s skies earlier this summer. Tropical Storm Hilary became the first tropical cyclone to make landfall in southern California in 84 years. Rust said he believes climate change is happening, though he questions the extent to which human activity contributes to it. He says the United States should continue to invest in renewable energy where practical, but should not do so in a way that jeopardizes the economy.

Rust said he would support a nationwide ban on abortion 15 weeks into pregnancy, albeit with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to protect the mother’s life or health or in cases of fatal fetal anomalies.

All INdiana Politics airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on WISH-TV.