Rep. Jim Banks is targeting the Indiana Senate seat

Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) has built a public profile as chair of the Republican Study Committee, the largest block of conservative lawmakers in Congress. Now Banks is considering trying for a different role in the Capitol — Indiana’s open Senate seat.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) is giving up the Senate seat in 2024 after a single six-year term to run for governor. And Banks is weighing whether to run for the Senate in a Republican race that wouldn’t be a safe bet in the hard red state, given that several other GOP candidates are already in the Senate contest or are expected to step in. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) is considering running for Senate. So did former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who headed the Office of Management and Budget during the George W. Bush administration. Other Republicans could also step in.

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Still, Banks could have a leg up in the GOP Senate scrum after chairing the Republican study committee during the last congress, having recently handed over the role to Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK). Chairing the Republican Study Committee raised Banks’ profile, with the group playing a central role in shaping the GOP’s messaging strategy. Lunchtime sessions during the House of Representatives session became a key port of call for potential 2020 presidential candidates looking to win favor with the Conservatives. Meanwhile, Banks blossomed into a regular television presence defending former President Donald Trump, which can only help in an Indiana GOP primary.

The role of Republican Studies Committee chairman has served as a stepping stone to a number of national political figures, including former Vice President Mike Pence, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH ). . banks said Washington Examiner that the leadership of the largest conservative faction in Congress gave him unique skills to become a senator.

“Mike Braun was a consistent and reliable conservative in the Indiana Senate,” Banks said. “Indiana deserves a conservative senator — it’s a conservative state. So I’m definitely interested and strongly considering running for the Senate in Indiana, and the Republican Study Committee has uniquely prepared me to be that kind of conservative leader in my state.”

Banks, 43, was previously a member of the Indianapolis State Senate. He currently serves in the Navy Reserve as a Supply Corps officer. From 2014 to 2015, he was placed on leave by the Indiana Senate to serve in Afghanistan.

Banks was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2016, and the Fort Wayne-based 3rd congressional district he represents occupies northeastern Indiana.

Banks is a popular figure among the GOP base nationally. He maintains close ties with Trump, Pence and other high-profile politicians, whom he has brought into meetings with the Republican Study Committee during his tenure.

“I think Republicans are hungry for substantive conversation and the best place you’re going to find is the Republican Study Committee because we’re talking big ideas. We’re talking about where the party goes from here,” he said.

Banks assumed leadership of the group in early 2021, shortly after Republicans lost complete control of Congress and ousted President Joe Biden Trump from the White House. During his two-year tenure, Banks set out to find ways to provide a forum for GOP members to discuss ideas and hear from notable speakers in hopes of helping the party unite around common goals.

“[The Republican Study Committee] always stood for strong national defenses, fiscal conservatism, fiscal responsibility and being the pro-family, pro-life party,” Banks said, “with the populist politics and ‘America First’ politics of the Trump era : strong borders and immigration policies, putting American workers first, an America-first foreign policy, cracking down on China, and reining in big tech.”

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While divisions remain in the party, with ideology evident in the recent vote for House Speaker, which Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) needed 15 votes to win, Banks said he believes the GOP stay a big tent and on the way be in the right direction. Banks applauds the populist direction it has taken in recent years and how it has brought working-class voters on board, which he believes will play a key role in the GOP’s chances of success in future elections.

“The base of the Republican Party is broader than before — it’s a fact that Donald Trump has brought more working-class voters to the Republican Party,” he continued. “We are not traditional Republican voters, and we need those voters to win majorities and win back the White House.”

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