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Tipsheet

GOP Senator: Why I'm Getting the Hell Outta Here

Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) is ready for the next thing in his public career. The Indiana Republican has seen enough of the Potomac to last a lifetime. He also wants to do something which has become a rarity in Congress. It’s a bipartisan feeling, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) outright saying that the Senate "sucks." Braun is primed to run for governor of Indiana and be the one who sets the agenda instead of idly waiting, as he does on the Hill, watching paper pushed around that only ends with no law getting passed and very little accomplished. And, when big legislation items are mulled, they’re horrible, like the failed amnesty bill peddled by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) or the heinous anti-gun package was passed with the help of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) no less. Braun is 68 and not one to put much stock into accruing seniority or any of the machinations of the Senate that lead to one becoming a big player in the upper chamber. 

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Politico had a thorough write-up of Braun’s mindset, which led him to say ‘sayonara’ to the Beltway, though he has vowed to remain and serve his full term, which expires the same year he plans to make a run for the governor’s mansion. The only downside is that while Indiana has become a solidly red state—the primary could be nasty, with the publication adding that Reps. Jim Banks (R) and Victoria Spartz (R) might make a run to fill his vacancy. Former Indiana Governor and President of Purdue University Mitch Daniels may also toss his hat into the ring. 

Notably, some good Republicans could opt to run for governor, one of them being Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) as incumbent conservative Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is term-limited. Kennedy must decide soon, as that race begins in 2023. For Braun, one of the things that could do well for him as McConnell has again fallen out of favor with conservative base voters is his independent streak, not going along with his leader on some key bills (via Politico):

Senators often flirt with running for governor, but rarely go through with it. Mike Braun is taking the leap. 

The Indiana Republican on Monday became the first sitting senator in seven years to seek a governorship, giving up a safely red seat for the opportunity to become the chief executive of his state. The decision came with no shortage of drama for Braun, whose term ends in 2024 — the same year as the governor race. 

[…] 

“I’ve never been a believer in seniority, or just purely time being the measure of success,” Braun said of the Senate during a lengthy interview about his bid for governor. “When I measured what I could accomplish in six more years here, I think I can do more by going back home.” 

[…]

Braun’s decision wasn’t exactly a state secret when he formally announced on Monday: He’d already filed paperwork and told fellow Indiana Republicans of his intentions. And senators in both parties said that it’s logical that Braun, who ran an auto parts business before entering politics, chafed at being one of 100 legislators in a chamber known for its glacial progress. 

“A loss for us, a gain for Indiana,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has been plotting with Braun to give the GOP a more clear-cut agenda. “It takes forever to get anything done. Mike is more of a business, action-oriented guy.” 

[…] 

“I’m going to come back to Indiana and try to set my example of how you really address health care,” Braun explained. “If conservatives aren’t involved in policy, we’re going to always be complaining about what the other side of the aisle dishes up for us. “ 

In announcing his run, Braun released polling results showing him with a commanding lead over primary rivals Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and businessman Eric Doden. Others may yet get in. And unlike his 2018 Senate mystery man campaign, Braun is no longer a complete outsider nor a newbie in high-powered politics. 

He said his conservative record would help counteract any attack that he’s gone Washington — indeed, he voted against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to lead the conference and is a reliable “no” vote on lots of legislation. After expressing interest in gun safety during former president Donald Trump’s administration, he voted against this year’s bipartisan law on that issue and twice voted against Trump’s impeachment. 

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Frankly, that part is a bit of a buried lede. Mr. Braun welcomes Donald Trump’s endorsement and very well could get it, but he’s reticent to discuss the former president’s 2024 ambitions and whether he supports it. He also is unapologetic for changing course regarding his initial challenge to the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. After the January 6 riot, he voted not to object, and Biden was certified the winner, which would have been the result regardless. The legal fight the Trump team put up in challenging these results ranged from embarrassing to outright incompetent. No, it wasn’t worse than 9/11, but Braun told Politico that the riot was the sign that it was time to get the hell out of this town.

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