Indiana Rep. Jim Banks launches 2024 Senate run, highlights record as ‘conservative fighter’

Republican Rep. Jim Banks says “Indiana deserves a conservative senator” and highlights that he’s “been a leading conservative voice in the House.”

Banks, a former state senator and a veteran of the Afghanistan war who is in his fourth term representing a district in northeast Indiana, on Tuesday formally launched his candidacy for the Senate in a 2024 run to succeed GOP Sen. Mike Braun, who last month announced that he’s bidding for governor of the Hoosier State rather than seek reelection.

Banks, in an interview with Fox News ahead of his announcement, said he intends “to go to the Senate and be the type of conservative fighter that Hoosiers expect out of their senator.”

“I’m 100% pro-life, pro-family, pro-military, pro-veteran, focused on the issues that the voters care most about today, which is holding the Biden administration accountable and restoring America, fighting for our conservative values, putting America first, and that’s what I want to do in the Senate,” he said.

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Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana is interviewed by Fox News Digital in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 14, 2022.
(Fox News)

Banks launched his Senate campaign with a statement and video and announced it in a live national interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” He says he’ll travel throughout the state to meet with friends and supporters and speak with local media in the coming days.

He’s showcasing two high-profile endorsements as he jumps into the Senate race: Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a rising star in the GOP, and Rep. Larry Bucshon, who represents Indiana’s 8th Congressional District in the southwest corner of the state.

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Banks, who spent the last two years chairing the Republican Study Committee, an influential group of conservative House lawmakers, said, “I feel called to step up and run for the Senate because we need new, fresh conservative leadership in the United States Senate. That’s what Indiana expects. That’s what Indiana deserves — a conservative fighter in the Senate.”

“The United States Senate is a place where I can do even more for the conservative values that I and the voters of Indiana care about,” he said.

Banks said that the growing national debt, the threat from China and wokeism are “the three biggest issues facing our country today.”

Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana speaks at an Allen County GOP dinner in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Oct. 12, 2022.
(Rep. Jim Banks campaign)

Arguing that China poses a threat “to our American way of life,” Banks said he’s “been a leading voice in the House to hold China accountable for stealing our jobs, giving us COVID, and the Senate presents an even bigger platform to do more to combat the China threat and hold China accountable.”

He called wokeism “a cancer in America, and if we allow wokeism to continue to take hold of our institutions, our schools, our military, our government, corporate, that will be the death of [this] country. I’ve been leading the fight in the House, and the Senate’s an even bigger platform to fight back against critical race theory, anti-Americanism and wokeness.”

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And he said that “the omnibus [bill] that passed out of the Senate was frankly a key factor in my decision” in running for the Senate because it was “an indicator that we need fiscal conservatives in the Senate that will fight back against big spending omnibus bills, not go along with it.”

The massive bipartisan spending bill, which averted a government shutdown, was supported by longtime Senate GOP leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Asked if he would support McConnell, Banks said, “I think we need new conservative voices and leaders in the Senate. That’s why I’m running. There aren’t enough of them, and the omnibus bill is an example of that. There’s lots of other examples where we’ve had Republican senators in the U.S. Senate go along with the Democrats and pass the radical Biden agenda. And I want to go there and fight back against it.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images/File)

Indiana was once a general election battleground state but has become solidly red over the past decade, and the open Senate seat race could get crowded. While Banks is the first major GOP candidate to jump into the race, he’s likely to face competition for the Republican Senate nomination.

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Supporters of Republican Mitch Daniels say the former two-term governor — who was known as a fiscal conservative during his tenure steering Indiana — is seriously mulling a Senate bid. Last week, the Club for Growth, a well-known free-market advocacy group that weighs into GOP primaries, launched an ad charging that “moderate Mitch” was “wrong” for the Senate. The small ad buy was a sign that Daniels could face opposition from the right if he mounts a Senate bid.

Among the others mulling a bid is Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz, who represents a district in the central part of the state that includes parts of Indianapolis and its suburbs.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 9, 2022.
(Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Banks — who in November narrowly lost to 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 No. 3 leadership position in the incoming Republican majority in the chamber — has long been an ally and strong supporter of former President Donald Trump.

The former president, who in November announced his third White House bid, remains one of the most popular and influential politicians in the GOP.

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“I’m a big fan of President Trump and what he’s done for our country, what he’s done for the Republican Party. He remains very popular in the state of Indiana, and of course, I would love to have President Trump’s endorsement because it’s a significant show of support from someone who fought hard to put America first and who I fought alongside with when he was president,” Banks said.

The congressman said that he “was a leader in fighting to secure our border and America First foreign policy, America First economic policies, to put American workers first, and our immigration policies, trade policies. President Trump knows that, and I would be very glad to have his support.”