EXCLUSIVE – As he runs for his state’s open Senate seat, GOP Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana landed a big-name endorsement from a newly elected Republican in neighboring Ohio.
Sen. JD Vance on Tuesday highlighted that “we need more leadership in Washington like Jim Banks,” as he backed the conservative congressman from northeast Indiana in an endorsement statement shared first nationally with Fox News.
Banks, a 43-year-old former state senator and a veteran of the Afghanistan war who is in his fourth term representing a district in northeast Indiana, two-weeks ago formally launched his candidacy for the Senate in a 2024 run to succeed GOP Sen. Mike Braun, who in December announced that he’s bidding for governor of the Hoosier State rather than seek re-election.
“Jim puts the interests of our own country first, like working to secure our border from illegal immigration and illicit drugs and fentanyl, standing up against Big Tech censorship and fighting for America First trade policies that support working families with job creation right here at home,” Vance, who in November topped longtime Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan by six points to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman, said.
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Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana speaks at an Allen County GOP dinner, in Fort Wayne Indiana on Oct. 12, 2022
(Rep. Jim Banks campaign)
Vance argued that “Banks will be the conservative force against Joe Biden’s woke, inflationary agenda that wants to make mass amnesty a grim reality, make our communities less safe and harder for middle and working class families to put food on the table. Jim is a product of the American Dream, like me. He represents the new wave of young conservative leadership of the Republican Party, and I look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate.”
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The endorsement of Banks is the first from Vance, who took office earlier this month, in a 2024 Senate race. Thanks in part to a last minute endorsement by former President Donald Trump, Vance last May won a competitive and combustible Republican Senate primary before defeating Ryan in the general election.
Republican Senator-elect J.D. Vance of Ohio, at his Election Night victory celebration, in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 8, 2022.
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Banks, who is the first candidate to declare in the Indiana GOP Senate race, is highlighting his conservative credentials, telling Fox News Digital as he announced his candidacy that “Indiana deserves a conservative senator” and showcasing that he’s “been a leading conservative voice in the House.”
“I supported J.D. early on in his campaign last year because he understands the needs of the working class and what must be done to revitalize communities across the Midwest and America,” Banks said in a statement. “His support means a lot to me, and I look forward to partnering in the United States Senate to advance the pro-worker, pro-America agenda our country deserves.”
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Another potential GOP candidate the race would have been former two-term Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, a 73-year-old former top official in then-President George W. Bush’s administration who until stepping down at the end of last year served the past decade as president of Purdue University. But despite being encouraged to make a run for the seat, Daniels said Tuesday that he would not enter the campaign.
File photo of former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who later served as president of Purdue University.
“After what I hope was adequate reflection, I’ve decided not to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Daniels said in a Tuesday morning statement. “With full credit and respect for the institution and those serving in it, I conclude that it’s just not the job for me, not the town for me, and not the life I want to live at this point.”
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Once a battleground state, Indiana has become reliably red in recent election cycles, and the winner of the GOP primary is expected to become the clear front-runner in the 2024 general election.