Northeast Indiana Congressman Jim Banks entered the 2024 race for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday — becoming the first candidate in what is expected to be a crowded Republican field.
Known for his fiery tweets, the conservative agitator has served in the Third District of the US House of Representatives since 2017. He has just started his fourth term.
US Senator Mike Braun is giving up his seat to run for governor in 2024.
“One thing is clear to me, and that is that the Hoosiers deserve a conservative fighter in the Senate. And Mike Braun has been a consistent Conservative and we should have a Conservative replacing Mike Braun and I want to be that Conservative leader, that Conservative fighter,” Banks said.
He used the word conservative 20 times in a 10-minute interview with the Indiana Capital Chronicle. He posted video of his run Tuesday morning and plans to submit today. In the video, he says, “Only in America could a small town kid from a working class family do what I was blessed to do.”
Banks grew up in Columbia City, the son of a factory worker and a nursing home cook. He was the first in his family to go to college and met his wife at Indiana University.
In Congress, he has focused on veterans’ affairs — he served part of the time in Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015 while he was in the state Senate — and holding China accountable. Just last week he started an “anti-wake” caucus and has been on Fox News for the past few days to highlight him.
Banks said the Senate would provide an opportunity to do even more on national security and defense issues that are so important to him.
“I think it was clear to me after a few terms in the House of Representatives that there aren’t enough conservatives in the Senate. We saw the massive Omnibus Spending Act pass here recently with Republican support in the Senate, and that only paved the way for our $32 trillion in national debt to continue to grow. So we need conservatives in the Senate who will stand up to the Democrats and the Biden agenda to not go along with it,” he said.
Banks also headed the largest conservative caucus — the Republican Study Committee — for two years. He recently lost the election as Republican leader in the House of Representatives and staunchly supported US Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the recent struggle for the speakership.
“I led the fight in Congress to blame China for stealing our jobs and giving us COVID,” he said in his video. He also invokes athletics, abortion, and critical racial theory of transgender girls.
A Senate term lasts six years instead of two, which gives more leeway between campaigns. But a Senate campaign will likely cost millions to win.
In 2018, Braun spent $4.5 million in the GOP primary. According to Vox, the three candidates spent a total of more than $9 million in one of the most expensive and negative primaries of the year.
Club for Growth connection
Open Secrets, which researches and tracks money in politics and its impact on elections and politics, found that Banks’ largest contribution from 2015 to 2022 was Club for Growth – $104,066.
The Club for Growth independent spending super PAC went on the offensive on Sunday — by posting an attack ad against two-year governor and former Purdue University president Mitch Daniels, who is also considering running for the Senate.
Mark Lubbers, a personal advisor to Daniels and a long-time friend, has not minced his words about the ad and Banks.
“A majority of Americans are willing to adopt conservative policies… but losers who make conservatism ugly and unsympathetic, like the Club for Growth. At some point, true conservatives are going to have to go to war against these thugs to save us from baby Trumps like Jim Banks,” Lubbers said.
He said he heard Club for Growth plans to continue investing in banks, potentially into the millions.
“For the sake of my friend Mitch Daniels, I hope he gets out of what these con artists have made of politics,” Lubbers said. “For the sake of my country, I hope Mitch runs and beats Banks to a pulp.”
Banks dodged a question about Daniels but said he called Donald Trump to let him know his decision and he “would be very happy to have his support.” Banks has visited Trump on several occasions and his video includes two images with the former president.
Others supporting Banks include Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon, R-8th, and US Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton.
“Hoosiers deserve to have another proven Conservative in the Senate, and Jim Banks is by far the best person for the job. Jim and I are both US Navy Reserve veterans and we need Jim in the Senate to build a strong military that will defend the homeland and stand up to our adversaries like communist China. Jim is not afraid of the far left and will fight to remove from the military the “awakened” training that harms our preparedness. Jim is an uncompromising advocate of conservative values with a strong track record of defending the unborn and protecting the rights of parents in education. I am confident that Jim will continue the fight for Hoosiers’ conservative values in the Senate and he has my full support.”
Cotton said, “We need more leaders like Jim Banks in the US Senate – leaders with military experience who will defend our rights and our national security. He’s been a vital partner in the House for six years, and I know he’ll be an even stronger partner in the Senate. Jim is a proven conservative fighter who puts Hoosiers first and I’m proud to support him.”
Banks previously served in the state Senate for six years and is from Columbia City. He and his wife Amanda have three daughters.