Democratic Challenger's Attempt to Ban Rep. Jim Banks from Office Fails Miserably

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Posted: Feb 19, 2022 2:45 PM
Democratic Challenger's Attempt to Ban Rep. Jim Banks from Office Fails Miserably

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Last week, I highlighted a particularly ridiculous attempt from Rep. Jim Banks' (R-IN) Democratic opponent, Aaron "AJ" Calkins, to get the congressman banned from running for office. In a filing from February 6, 2022, Calkins tried to claim that Banks shouldn't be able to run because of what Calkins simply wrote was "Violation of 14th Amendment Supporting An Insurrection." As Tom Davies reported for AP on Friday, the state election commission, comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, voted unanimously to reject Calkins' bid. 

Davies' reporting mentions statements from Banks' attorney, who said that "Congressman Banks has publicly commented that he did not support that conduct, nor did he engage in it, and he has also called for the prosecution of unlawful conduct that occurred that day."

Banks himself also released a statement, just as he had when condemning what he referred to as Calkins' "joke allegation" last week. 

"Congressional Democrats know that they are toast after November. Instead of fighting fair, or implementing policies to help Americans and their electoral chances, they're trying to rig the game. Many Democrats in Washington hope to weaponize the 14th amendment to disenfranchise President Trump’s 74 million voters. I hope they watched today’s unanimous decision," Banks said. 

Banks also had a message overall for Democrats with renewing his commitment to winning re-election. "Biden’s failed presidency has brought America to the brink and Congress’s oversight role is more important than ever. I look forward to holding this administration accountable on behalf of all Hoosiers after 2022," Banks continued.

Paul Okeson, the commission's Republican chairman is also quoted in Davies' article, calling the Capitol riot a "regrettable mark in history," but also said that there was no evidence Banks was guilty of taking part in what Calkins and fellow Democrats, as well as many in the mainstream media, have called an "insurrection."

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is also facing such similar targeting, in that a group of North Carolina voters filed to disqualify the congressman from running for re-election. The situation remains somewhat in limbo, but as Roger Parloff discussed on Wednesday for Lawfare:

Cawthorn’s case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Richard E. Myers, a Trump appointee. Myers placed the matter on a fast track in light of the approaching May 17 primary.

Then, on Feb. 4, the North Carolina Supreme Court tossed a wrench in the gears. It struck down the state’s 2021 redistricting map—including the 13th Congressional District that Cawthorn had filed to run in—as an “unlawful partisan gerrymander” in violation of the state constitution. The court ordered the state legislature to draw a new map by Feb. 18.

On Feb. 7, the petitioners challenging Cawthorn moved to intervene in Cawthorn’s federal suit and filed a brief opposing the preliminary injunction. The elections board also filed its own brief in opposition.

Parloff, a former attorney who no longer practices, questioned "But why Cawthorn—let alone Banks?"

Rep. Banks has been particularly outspoken about the January 6 select committee, which is compromised of no members selected by the minority party. All members, including Republican Reps. Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL), were selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had selected five members, including Banks, but pulled them all back once Pelosi vetoed McCarthy's selection of Banks and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The January 6 select committee has received criticism from the national party as well. Earlier this month, the RNC voted to censure Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also addressed the censure in a subsequent column for Townhall. 

Banks was first elected to his seat in 2016, by 70.1 percent to Democrat Tommy Schrader's 23 percent. He won his most recent race in 2020 by 67.7 percent.