FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — “I would not be running if I did not think I would win.”

Those are the words of John Rust, the self-described chicken farmer from Seymour, Indiana.

During his interview this week with WANE 15, Rust seemed ready to go to battle with Rep. Jim Banks (IN-3) for the 2024 GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.

Will he get the chance?

Banks was named the “presumptive nominee” for the open seat during the August Republican State Dinner in Indianapolis.

During the announcement, then-Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer called the move unprecedented. Rust was in the audience, shaking his head.

“You would expect in an open Senate seat for Indiana, that Indiana Republican voters could have a choice,” he told WANE 15.

When asked about Rust at the GOP dinner, Hupfer said Rust did not meet party requirements, failing to vote in the most recent GOP primaries. Hupfer said the Jackson County Republican Chairwoman would not sign off on a Rust run.

Rust said the party was frightened by his outsider status.

“They know they can’t control me. I’m not under the thumb. I will not be a pawn of the establishment in Washington, DC. I will not be a stooge of Mitch McConnell like Jim Banks wants to be.”

The Banks camp has already posted social media ads charging Rust’s family company, Rose Acre Farms, of gouging consumers over the price of eggs, which Rust dismissed.

“When my dad started selling eggs on the Indianapolis farmers market in the early 1950s, he was getting about 50 cents a dozen. Adjusted for inflation today, that would be over $5 a dozen,” he noted. “Eggs are an incredible bargain.”

Banks responded in a statement, saying “John Rust has many hurdles to get through before he can get his name on the ballot but if he does I will welcome a spirited campaign about his liberal record. Hoosiers are looking for a conservative fighter to be our next Senator and I’m the only candidate running with a record of doing just that.”

The Indiana primary is May 7, 2024.