FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — With a lot of discussion and prayer with his wife and three daughters, Representative Jim Banks (3rd District) announced Tuesday he would enter the 2024 race for U.S. Senate.

“We believe strongly that Indiana deserves a conservative senator to replace Mike Braun and I’m stepping up to the plate to kick off my campaign,” he told WANE 15 in an interview before the announcement.

Braun announced he would give up the seat to run for Indiana Governor.

Banks, 43, began his fourth term in Congress earlier this month. In the last term, he climbed through the ranks of the GOP to chair the Republican Study Committee, widely seen as a launching pad for conservatives such as Jim Jordan, Steve Scalise and Mike Pence.

“My proven track record as a conservative leader in the House speaks for itself,” Banks stated. “The Senate just provides a bigger opportunity to do more for Indiana. I believe Hoosiers want a strong conservative voice, a conservative fighter to focus on the issues that Hoosiers care about.”

While Banks, a frequent guest on Fox News and lightning rod on Twitter, became the first to enter the race, many Hoosiers are watching former Governor and recently retired Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who has been courted by allies to run.

Whether Daniels, 73, or somebody else, Banks was prepared for a contested race.

“I expect that moderates might try to find a candidate of their own, but that’s what Republican primaries are all about: you have choices,” he said.

Republicans have held a stranglehold on statewide races, last losing in 2012 when Democrat Joe Donnelly defeated Richard Mourdock, who unseated moderate Richard Lugar in the primary.

Banks thinks his conservative brand will resonate with voters in 2024.

“Indiana is a very conservative state, a very pro-life state and a state that just wants their their senator to fight for Hoosier families, for Hoosier conservative values, and that’s what I’ve done in the House,” said Banks. “Northeast Indiana is one of the most conservative parts of the state, so it’s a good place to come from. Dan Coates, Dan Quayle both served in the House in this district before they became the United States senator so I don’t take lightly the opportunity that northeast Indiana has given me.”

Indiana Democratic leaders emailed reaction shorty after Banks’ announcement.

“Jim Banks failed in his bid to become the Majority Whip for the U.S. House so now he sees the U.S. Senate as a new prize for more political power. Hoosiers shouldn’t be surprised by Banks’s brazen calculation, because he cares more about the Tucker Carlson national cable news circuit than creating a better future for the Hoosier State.

In fact, Jim Banks’s tenure in Congress can be described as leading with arrogance and extremism and ignoring the interests of Northeast Indiana – despite his claims that the Republican Party was for the Hoosier worker. His ‘NO’ votes on economic investments, job creation, and historic infrastructure investments show he cares less about the future of our families and workers and more about the scandal of the day in Washington, D.C.

Jim Banks represents exactly what voters despise about politics: someone who will say or do anything to make a buck for themselves and hold onto political power. Hoosiers deserve an elected official who will set aside Washington special interests and focus on creating a better future for everyone in Indiana. Jim Banks would be better suited as a Fox News host – not a U.S. Senator.”

Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party

No Democrat has announced for the seat.

The Senate primary is in May, 2024.