Rep. Banks Announces for Senate

Four-term Indiana Congressman Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announced that he will compete for the Hoosier State’s open Senate race next year, setting up what appears to be a major Republican primary brawl.

Also moving toward his own declaration is former Governor Mitch Daniels, who recently completed his tenure as president of Purdue University.

With Sen. Mike Braun (R) eschewing a second term in exchange for an open 2024 Governor’s run, the Indiana Senate contest will be one of the most intriguing nomination battles in next year’s early primary season. The Indiana statewide primary will likely be scheduled for May 7, 2024, and nominate candidates for all offices, including apportioning the state’s presidential primary delegates for both parties.

Mr. Daniels, who will be 75 years of age at the next election, was first elected Governor in 2004 and re-elected four years later with a 58-40% victory margin over Democratic former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson. Prior to his service in the Indiana state house, Mr. Daniels was Director of the Office of Management & Budget in President George W. Bush’s Administration and served on the Reagan White House staff long before his agency appointment. He has not appeared on the ballot since 2008. 

The Indiana Senate race could yield a crowded Republican primary. Other potential candidates are US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) and now former Congressman Trey Hollingsworth who did not seek re-election in 2022 after serving three terms in the House. Possible additional contenders include term-limited Governor Eric Holcomb and Attorney General and former US Congressman Todd Rokita

While the lone published poll of this potential campaign posts the former Governor to an advantage, his margin is far from overwhelming. The Bellwether Research organization conducted a Republican primary poll before the end of last year (12/11-17; 1,000 IN registered voters; 457 IN likely GOP primary voters; online & text) and found Mr. Daniels topping the field with 32% preference. Rep. Banks followed with 10% support, followed by Mr. Hollingsworth, AG Rokita, and Rep. Spartz, recording 9-7-7%, respectively. 

Without Mr. Daniels in the field, the Bellwether poll found the candidates becoming jumbled all within an aggregate of five points of one another, meaning such a nomination campaign would be wide open. 

Rep. Banks was re-elected to a fourth term in November with 65% of the vote, and has averaged 67% in his congressional campaigns. He ended the 2022 election cycle with approximately $1.4 million remaining in his campaign account, all of which could be transferred into a US Senate committee.

With Rep. Banks leaving the safely Republican 3rd Congressional District, we will see a crowded GOP candidate field forming from a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+34. Dave’s Redistricting App, the other data group that has quantified all 435 congressional districts under the 2022 political maps, projects a 62.1 – 34.3% Republican partisan lean. Former President Donald Trump carried this district in 2020 with a 64-34% margin. Therefore, Mr. Banks’ successor will almost assuredly come from the May 2024 hotly contested open GOP primary.

Indiana’s 3rd District encompasses the northeastern sector of the Hoosier State, hugging the western Ohio border from the Michigan line all the way to the Union City area. The city of Ft. Wayne within Allen County that houses almost 380,000 residents anchors the 3rd CD. 

Rep. Banks is now the third House member to announce a 2024 Senate campaign, following Reps. Alex Mooney (R-WV) and Katie Porter (D-CA). Once California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announces her likely retirement, it is a virtual certainty that both Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) will join the Senate fray, and possibly another San Francisco Bay Area Congressman, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont/Santa Clara). 

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