Rep. Banks of the GOP enters the contest for the vacant Indiana Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Jim Banks, a tenacious supporter of former President Donald Trump, declared his candidacy for the Indiana U.S. Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Mike Braun.

Since Braun announced in December that he would forego a 2024 reelection effort and instead run for governor of Indiana, Banks is the first contender to publicly enter the Senate race. Days before to Banks’ announcement, Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana, was criticized as being insufficiently conservative by Donald Trump Jr. and the anti-tax Club for Growth in Washington. Daniels is currently debating whether or not to run for the Senate seat as well.

Current Senate Republicans have come under fire from Banks for working too closely with the Biden administration and allowed the approval of a massive $1.7 trillion spending plan right before Christmas.

Banks told The Associated Press, “I just believe now more than ever that we need conservatives in the Senate who are going to push back against radical Democrat plans instead of supporting them.” “Republican primary voters are searching for a conservative fighter, someone who will go to Washington and fight for Hoosier family values and against the radical, socialist, and woke agenda that Democrats are pursuing in Washington,” said one Republican primary voter.

Asserting that “anti-Americanism” is being promoted in schools and the military and blaming China for COVID-19, Banks produced a campaign video announcement, stating that “the radical Democrats and the spineless Republicans are going to do all that they can to stop me.”

The next year, in 2016, Banks, 43, was re-elected to Congress from a strongly Republican district in northern Indiana. He had just returned from an eight-month military assignment with the Navy Reserve in Afghanistan.

Since then, he has become a regular guest on Fox News Channel and a supporter of Donald Trump. On January 6, 2021, a crowd of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol, and he voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Months later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, vetoed Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s choice of Banks to chair the committee looking into the deadly Capitol uprising, citing the need to preserve the “integrity” of the study.

Banks supported McCarthy throughout his campaign for House speaker this month and has maintained contact with Trump, meeting with him on several occasions since he left the White House and traveling with him in 2021 to the border between the United States and Mexico. Banks stated that he informed Trump of his decision to run for the Senate last week. Trump won Indiana by sizable margins in both 2016 and 2020.

I told him I’d appreciate his support and hoped he would join me in Indiana for my campaign, said Banks. “I truly believe we need to return to the America First policies and agenda he supported while he was president. I was pleased to fight beside him for that.”

With Banks’ announcement, a competitive race for the Republican nomination could begin in the GOP-dominated state. Rep. Victoria Spartz, who was born in Ukraine, may run for the nomination; she has occasionally criticized the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last February.

The most important aspect, however, might be Daniels’ decision to run. The 73-year-old Daniels ended his illustrious ten years as president of Purdue University at the end of December after serving two terms as governor with excellent popularity ratings in the beginning of 2013.

Without waiting for Daniels’ decision, the conservative Club for Growth ran an advertisement last week criticizing him for escalating the national debt during his tenure as President George W. Bush’s budget director. Daniels is described as a “old guard Republican holding fast to the horrible old ways” in the article.

For Growth Club The wealthy group is “willing to spend what it takes to ensure that Hoosiers have a conservative in that Senate seat,” according to President David McIntosh, who served as a congressman for Indiana in the 1990s.

According to McIntosh, the group hasn’t decided whether to support a particular candidate.

Jim Banks is well regarded by us, McIntosh added. He embodies the new, young Republican leadership that the public wants.

The Club for Growth, according to Mark Lubbers, a longtime friend and advisor to Daniels, supported unsuccessful Republican candidates as the party failed to win back the Senate in the previous election.

Sad to see Jim Banks joining them, commented Lubbers. And reportedly they believe that poking the bear with a sharp stick is a brilliant political move. We’ll have to wait and see.

Banks, who was 31 years old when Daniels was governor in 2010 and when he was first elected to the state Senate, has been ready to exploit political differences.

In 2021, he responded to a tweet about Dr. Rachel Levine becoming the first transgender four-star officer in the U.S. uniformed services by writing: “The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man,” which led to the suspension of his congressional office’s Twitter account for a few weeks.

Additionally, Banks fought last year’s veto of a measure prohibiting transgender females from participating in girls’ school athletics by Republican Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. He asked state lawmakers to “send a statement to the rest of the nation that Indiana cherishes women,” and they ultimately overrode the veto.

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