INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Two things this week would seem to bode well for Rep. Jim Banks’ (R, IN-3) run for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat in 2024: a newspaper article and a speech. The rare early primary endorsement of the state Republican party probably doesn’t hurt, either.

On Monday, the Indianapolis Star examined Banks’ record in Congress and the Statehouse. The article indicated Banks could write both legislation and firebrand Tweets.

“This kind of article is a powerful introduction of Jim Banks to the state’s most populous area,” said Michael Wolf, Purdue University Fort Wayne Political Science Professor and Chairman.

“This is particularly true for primary voters, who may be familiar with Banks’ high conservative media profile, but likely do not know his legislative experience. Congressional observers have long categorized members of Congress as ‘show horses’ vs. ‘workhorses.’ This article indicates to primary voters – who are most attentive to policy matters and more likely to vote – that Banks’ high profile in the media is backed up with a legislative record that outstrips most of his colleagues.”

Banks also delivered a speech Thursday night at the Indiana Republican dinner in Indianapolis. In what was called an “unprecedented move” for an open seat primary, Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer announced the state party’s endorsement of Banks.

“As this process has unfolded, it has become clear that Congressman Banks is the conservative choice,” said Hupfer, who cited rule 11, which allowed the party to make the endorsement.

By signing off on rule 11, Banks can now receive support and resources from the national party. While any qualified candidate could still enter the race, the national party will refer to Banks as the “presumptive nominee.”

Even before the endorsement, long-time Indiana political observer Andrew Downs said the speech could keep potential GOP rivals on the sidelines.

“The field has been clearing for Banks to be the Republican nominee,” said Downs, the former head of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics.

Downs said the speech alone was an unofficial endorsement by the state party of Banks’ run.

“If Rep. Banks is successful on Thursday, he will accomplish three things. First, he will demonstrate his campaign is running well, which sends a message to any other potential candidates they should consider a different office. Second, it will send a message to political investors that they should see him as a good investment and help build his war chest. Third, he will send a message around the country that he is going to be the next U.S. Senator from Indiana and he has the assets to help candidates in other states, which will build his sphere of influence in D.C.”

The state’s Democratic party leader, contacted before the event, held a sharply different view.

“By clearing the primary field for Jim Banks, Indiana Republicans are embracing the most radical positions in their Party at the detriment of Hoosier voters,” said IDP Chair Mike Schmuhl.

“Since being elected to the U.S. House, Banks has heavily advocated for a nationwide ban on the right to choose. Banks turned this year’s reauthorization of military funding into a partisan circus by injecting fringe issues such as restricting military families from seeking reproductive healthcare, and the military’s ability to recruit young people amid a shortage of servicemembers.

“Now more than ever, Hoosiers need a Senator that will stand up for common sense and work across the aisle to put aside the partisan games and get results for Indiana. Jim Banks has proven he’s not the person for the job.”

The theme of Banks’ speech was “America is Worth Fighting For.”

The Senate seat will be vacated by Mike Braun, who is running for Indiana governor. The Indiana primary is on May 7.