In November of 2024, Hoosiers will elect a U.S. Senator to fill a seat left open by the current occupant, who is running for Governor. The almost-certain GOP candidate will be current Congressperson and noted crackpot Jim Banks.
Lest you quibble with my “crackpot” designation, allow me to share a recent example, reported by Howey Political Report (paywall).
Indiana U.S. Reps. Jim Banks and Erin Houchin joined 68 fellow Republicans in voting to end U.S. military aid to Ukraine during debate on the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act. They offered the following amendment (one of dozens offered by hard-Right Republicans): “Notwithstanding any provision of this or any other Act, no federal funds may be made available to provide security assistance to Ukraine.”
It was defeated by a 358-70 margin, with all Democrats and a majority of Republicans (including U.S.Reps. Jim Baird, Larry Bucshon, Greg Pence, Victoria Spartz and Rudy Yakym) opposing the measure.
The misnamed Freedom Caucus believes that the United States should ignore Russia’s unprovoked invasion of another country and its subsequent commission of multiple war crimes. Why?
Well, according to Banks, we can’t afford it.
“I don’t believe there was ever a parallel in American history where we’ve seen America decline as much as it has in two years with Joe Biden in the White House. So we’ve got to push the Biden administration to focus on our domestic weaknesses and the crisis in our own country before we grant billions and billions, $40 billion in this case to send to Ukraine. I looked through this bill and it was easy for me to vote against it. This bill gives every single person in Ukraine a ticket to come to the United States of America. That would be OK if we could afford it. To invite 44 million people to come here with no limits, we can’t afford it. Unlike Afghanistan, Ukraine is a wealthier country. We have to take that into account.”
Banks is one of the reliably hateful fringe that now controls the grievance cult that used to be a political party. The fact that so demonstrably delusional a character represents an Indiana Congressional district is bad enough–allowing him to become a Senator would be immeasurably worse.
And as political strategists will affirm, if he becomes the incumbent –especially with an R next to his name in Red Indiana–he’ll be incredibly difficult to dislodge.
One reason Republicans do well in Indiana is because Democrats have essentially thrown in the towel. They approach each race with the attitude: “what can we do? Indiana’s a lost cause.” But even in the most rural precincts of Indiana, I find it hard to believe that majorities of Hoosiers find Banks–a certified wing-nut and Trump lover who is pro-gun, anti-woman, and anti-LGBTQ–appealing.
A friend and I recently had lunch with Marc Carmichael, the former state legislator who very recently decided to run for the Democratic nomination, after evaluating the political landscape. As he said, it’s rare in Indiana that Democrats face so promising a set of circumstances.
- This is an open seat. Banks won’t have the advantages of incumbency.
- It’s JimBanks–who is far, far to the Right of even very conservative Hoosiers.
- Democrats are on the side of the majority of Hoosiers on the issues, especially women’s rights and assault weapons.
Democrats have a candidate with political and legislative experience and the ability to run full-time. Carmichael has hit the ground running, and is in the process of putting together his website, social media strategy and fundraising plan.
What will defeat him–or another first-rate candidate, Jennifer McCormick, who is running for Governor– is the defeatist attitude of far too many progressive Hoosiers–an attitude that depresses both fundraising and turnout.
If Carmichael raises enough money to get his message out, he can win.
According to a Pew survey, 42% of Hoosiers are or lean Republican, 37% are or lean Democrat, and 20% report no lean. A poll (commissioned by Indiana Republicans!) found 63-percent of Hoosier voters are pro-choice. Another poll, this one from EveryTown for Gun Safety, found the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers support stronger gun laws: 56 percent of Hoosiers think gun laws should be made stronger, compared to just 8 percent who want weaker gun laws. (Support for individual gun safety laws was even higher.)
I wasn’t able to find polling on Hoosiers’ support for Ukraine, but I can’t imagine that many Indiana citizens think it’s “too expensive” to support a democratic ally–or who agree with TFG (and evidently Banks) that Vladimir Putin–currently trying to starve the world-– is a good guy.
Jim Banks is Indiana’s version of Margery Taylor Green. It’s bad enough that he continually embarrasses us in the House. We sure don’t need him in the Senate.