GOP 'fighter' jumps in Senate race but primary could get messy

GOP 'fighter' jumps in Senate race but primary could get messy

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) has announced he is running for the U.S. Senate but his candidacy is expected to clash with establishment Republicans in the state.

GOP 'fighter' jumps in Senate race but primary could get messy

This week’s announcement by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Indiana) that he is running for a U.S. Senate seat excited a longtime conservative activist who has witnessed the congressman uphold and defend conservative causes in the state legislature.

Indiana is currently represented in the U.S. Senate by Todd Young and Mike Braun, both Republicans, but Braun has announced he is stepping down to run for state governor. On Tuesday, Banks became the first candidate to formally enter that race and promptly released a campaign video, too.

"Indiana is a conservative state,” Banks told Fox News in an interview. “And Indiana deserves a conservative fighting in Washington D.C. and the United States Senate. I've been that fighter in the House."

Banks, 43, is expected to be challenged in the primary by Mitch Daniels, the former state governor. Daniels is viewed by conservative groups as the establishment politician while they view Banks as a fresh voice and solid conservative, according to an Associated Press story.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, wholeheartedly agrees with that description. He has known Banks for 20-plus years when he served in the state senate. Back then, Clark recalls, Banks was the “go-to guy” when conservatives depended on a strong voice to represent their cause in the legislature.  

Clark, Micah (AFA of Indiana) (1) Clark

“I think he's a very strong candidate,” Clark tells AFN. “He has a good record.”

Clark agrees, however, that a Republican primary could become a political clash. Some Republican leaders are not only backing Daniels but are demanding he run unopposed for the seat. Daniels is backed by Eric Holcomb, the current governor, among other “establishment” Republicans in the state.

“And so the question out there,” Clarke says, “is will Mitch Daniels run against Congressman Jim Banks."