This piece has been updated to include more mention of a super PAC, the American Leadership PAC, which plans to support Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), should he indeed run for Senate.
There's been chatter for some time now about Sen. Mike Braun's (R-IN) next move. Braun was first elected in 2018, beating out one-term incumbent, then Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Democrat. Rather than run for reelection, though, it's looking more likely that he'll run for governor to replace term-limited Eric Holcomb, a Republican who's considered something of a RINO. As POLITICO's Adam Wren reported on Wednesday, Braun filed paperwork to run for governor on Tuesday. When it comes to who will fill Braun's seat, that could very likely be Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who there's been just as much chatter about.
In an exclusive statement, a Banks spokesperson shared with Townhall a statement that praised Braun's time in office and also shared what's potentially next for the congressman.
"Senator Braun is a strong conservative who has used his position to serve Hoosiers and champion their values," the spokesperson said. "If Senator Braun officially announces he’s running for Governor, Indiana needs a strong conservative who can step up and fill his seat. Rep. Banks is well-positioned to win a statewide primary and general election and will spend the holiday discussing his future with his family and friends around the state."
Banks appears to be a member well-liked by his peers, having been unanimously elected in 2020 to lead the Republican Study Committee (RSC), and will be succeeded next Congress by Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK).
Earlier this month, Banks also just barely lost to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) in the House Majority Whip race for the 118th Congress, with only nine votes separating the two of them on the second ballot. Making that race even more potentially close is that the trajectory of that race was almost certainly affected, given that a Republican House member mistakenly voted for Emmer on the first ballot but meant to vote for Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA). Ferguson and Emmer were only separated by one vote, and had that member voted as he or she intended, it would have been Ferguson and Banks on the second ballot.
A possible Senate run for Banks was mentioned in an Axios report last month from Jonathan Swan, who was covering how Banks' run for majority whip was gaining traction at the time:
Banks has told allies he is "100% committed" to winning the whip race, a source said, though some of his colleagues believe he has longer-term aspirations to run for the Senate.
- The new super PAC is expected to live on beyond the midterms as Banks' preferred outside vehicle.
The super PAC in question, which is described in Swan's report as a "Banks-blessed super PAC," is known as the American Leadership PAC, and is being overseen by Republican strategists Andrew Surabian and James Blair. A source familiar with the super PAC told Townhall that it is "expected to support Jim's run for Senate, should he pull the trigger on a run."
The congressman, who was first elected in 2016, has handily won not only his primary races to represent Indiana's 3rd Congressional District, but the general election as well. Banks has beaten his Democratic opponent by no less than 59.1 percent of the vote, as he did in earlier this month, with 23 percent separating him and his opponent. It's worth noting that the Independent candidate in that election received 4.7 percent of the vote.
What's perhaps even more telling is that Banks outperformed Trump in the district for both 2016 and 2020. While Trump won the district in 2016 with 64.7 percent of the vote, Banks won his election in 2016 with 70.1 percent of the vote. In 2020, Trump again won the district, this time with 63.9 percent of the vote, while Banks won reelection with 67.8 percent of the vote.
When it comes to who Banks may be facing in a Senate primary, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) has also expressed interest in the seat.