Congressman Jim Banks makes moves for leadership

But he and a host of others could also run for governor in 2024

October 21, 2022 7:00 am

Third District Congressman Jim Banks joined the “The Ingraham Angle.” on Fox News in September to discuss President Joe Biden’s border policies. (Screenshot)

Indiana’s Third District Republican Congressman Jim Banks has been methodically building a national profile over the last seven years — by aligning himself with Donald Trump, curating a fiery (and controversial) Twitter account and leading the Republican Study Committee.

Now, he is looking to become the House majority whip should Republicans take control of the House as expected.

Not coincidentally, a new Banks-blessed super PAC — the American Leadership PAC — has formed to support Banks’ political priorities and policy agenda, according to Axios.

The PAC has apparently raised more than $2 million in just a few weeks, which will be spent on direct mail, text messages and digital advertising in around a dozen competitive House races.

In fact, my husband just this week received a text message from the PAC asking him to support Indiana Congressman Jim Baird in his 4th district re-election bid.

If Banks doesn’t come away with the whip position, he could join the lottery of folks interested in the 2024 governor’s race. He wouldn’t be the first congressman to seek leadership, not get it and then run for governor — e.g., Mike Pence.

Speaking of 2024, here is how that GOP field is looking:

  • Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden is the only declared candidate for the seat. But he is still a virtual unknown outside of northeast Indiana. He has been traversing the state and raising money, with about $2.4 million on hand before the next campaign finance report.
  • Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch is very interested in taking the next step, and if she pulls the trigger, would be an intriguing candidate. Indiana has had several female lieutenant governors, but none have chosen to pursue the state’s top office. She could become the first woman to be a GOP nominee for governor.
  • Sen. Mike Braun, according to IndyPolitics and Politico, has been telling the party faithful he will run for governor and plans to announce later in November. He would bring a name that has statewide recognition and personal wealth to the game. As a business owner, he has executive experience. Some close to him say he hasn’t enjoyed the more collaborative legislative post.
  • Ninth District U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth surprised everyone earlier this year by announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election. And it’s no secret he has spent recent months quietly exploring whether a governor bid is right for his next move. He is conservative but in a more understated mold. Some feel like he has missed a window, though, with Braun moving forward while he sits still.
  • Attorney General Todd Rokita appears to be running for something, though it isn’t clear what. He takes every opportunity to hop on national culture issues — whether it is critical race theory, “woke” investment policies, abortion and more. Everyone is assuming a governor bid is up next. But if Braun doesn’t run, then Rokita – a former congressman – might instead be interested in the Senate race.
  • Purdue President Mitch Daniels is probably the least likely on the list but everyone I talk to wants to know if it’s a possibility. Daniels is leaving Purdue at the end of this year. If he ran he would surely clear the deck. His eight years as governor were hugely successful for Republicans. But as someone who covered him during that time, and knowing his thirst for new experiences, I just don’t see why he would risk going back for another term.
  • Kyle Hupfer – the current chair of the Indiana Republican Party – wants to move from behind-the-scenes of a campaign to the front, so he is open to a gubernatorial run. But given the strength of the field he is probably a long shot.
  • There are various others said to be interested that I will mention here as a group though none have busted out as a legitimate candidate yet: Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, House Speaker Todd Huston and former state Sen. Jim Merritt.


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Niki Kelly
Niki Kelly

Niki has covered the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 – including five governors. She has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists and Hoosier State Press Association for stories on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, criminal justice issues and more. She also is a regular on Indiana Week in Review, a weekly public television rundown of news. She shifts her career to helm a staff of three and ensure Hoosiers know what’s really happening on the state level.