INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Tuesday that he wouldn’t seek his state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year, ending weeks of speculation about whether he would enter a vicious Republican primary fight against a combative defender of former President Donald Trump.
The decision by the 73-year-old Daniels comes two weeks after U.S. Rep. Jim Banks announced he was running for the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Mike Braun as he makes a 2024 run for governor.
“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,” Daniels said in a statement released by a longtime adviser.
The Washington-based anti-tax Club for Growth had already endorsed Banks and criticized Daniels as an insufficiently conservative “old guard Republican,” signaling a line of attack for a nasty intraparty race in the GOP-dominated state.
“ Mitch Daniels’s decision leaves Rep. Jim Banks as the lone declared Republican candidate for the open Senate seat. His campaign video announcement invoked disputes over transgender girls’ participation in sports, blamed China for COVID-19 and claimed that ‘anti-Americanism’ is being pushed in schools and the military.”
Daniels, who was considered a 2012 presidential contender with a conservative fiscal reputation, ended eight years as governor in early 2013 with high approval ratings. He stayed in the public eye for the past decade as the high-profile president of Purdue University before stepping down at the end of December.
His decision leaves Banks as the only declared candidate some 15 months ahead of Indiana’s 2024 primary.
Banks, 43, was first elected to Congress from a heavily Republican district in northeastern Indiana in 2016, the year after he returned from an eight-month military deployment to Afghanistan with the Navy Reserve.
Initially a Trump critic, suggesting the Republican Party and the country deserved better, has since become a frequent Fox News Channel guest and Trump ally who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election victory after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who was then the House speaker, months later rejected Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s pick of Banks as the top GOP member on the committee investigating the deadly Capitol insurrection, citing the need to protect the review’s integrity.
From the archives (July 2021): What one Indiana congressman’s trips to Bedminster, N.J., and the border with Mexico say about the future path of the Republican Party
Also see (October 2021): Twitter suspends Indiana Rep. Jim Banks’ account…
Read More: Purdue president and former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels won’t run for U.S.