EXCLUSIVE: Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana says he’s ‘strongly considering’ a 2024 run to succeed GOP Sen. Mike Braun, who announced on Monday that he’s bidding for governor of the Hoosier State rather than seek re-election in the Senate.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News this week, Banks said that if he pulls the trigger on running for his state’s open Senate seat, he’ll ‘get in quickly’ and showcase that he’s been ‘a strong, reliable, conservative in the House.’
Banks, a former state senator and a veteran of the Afghanistan war who represents a district in northeast Indiana, is outgoing chair of the Republican Study Committee, an influential group of conservative House lawmakers. But last month Banks was narrowly edged out by Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the chair the past two cycles of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in the race for House majority whip, which is the number three leadership position in the incoming Republican majority in the chamber.
Braun on Monday announced his gubernatorial bid, jumping into what’s expected to be a crowded field of GOP contenders vying to succeed Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.
‘This is a big deal for Indiana. Rarely does a Senate seat open up in our state,’ Banks emphasized. ‘Sen. Braun has been a strong conservative for Indiana in the Senate… Indiana deserves a strong conservative to replace him.’
Banks shared that ‘I’ll spend the holidays praying with my wife’ as they consider a Senate run. And he added that the ‘Senate provides such a bigger platform, a bigger opportunity, to do even more for Hoosiers and that’s why I’m not taking it lightly as we think our way through it.’
The congressman hinted that if he launches a campaign, the announcement could come early in the new year.
‘If we get in, we’ll get in quickly. Sen. Braun made his announcement about running for governor this week, so now it’s a reality,’ Banks said. ‘I think it’s important that when we decide that we’re going to do it to do it quickly, to get into the race and get out and meet Hoosiers all over the state and make the case that I’ve been a strong, reliable conservative in the House and can continue that type of leadership for the whole state.’
Indiana was once a general election battleground state but has become solidly red over the past decade, and the open Senate seat is likely to attract plenty of Republicans.
Banks said he has ‘no doubt’ that there will be a crowded GOP primary field. ‘I can imagine there are a lot of others who are thinking about it as well. So I don’t take that lightly,’ he said.
Among the others mulling a bid is fellow Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz. ‘As you know, one of Indiana’s U.S. Senate seats will become open in 2024, and I have been asked to consider it,’ she said in a statement last week.
Banks highlighted his conservative credentials, saying, ‘I’m proud of my consistent, conservative voting record in the House. I’ve been chairman of the largest conservative caucus. I’ve been a leading voice for President Trump’s America First agenda that was so good for our country that we have get back to.’
Asked if he’d seek the former president’s endorsement, Banks noted, ‘President Trump remains very popular in Indiana. There’s no bigger fan of what he did, not just for the country but for the Republican Party in our state, than me.’
He added, ‘if I get to the United States Senate, I’ll be fighting for the Trump agenda.’