INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Tuesday that he will not seek his state’s open Senate seat next year, ending weeks of speculation about whether he will enter a fierce Republican primary fight against former President Donald Trump’s embattled defender.
The decision by Daniels, 73, comes two weeks after U.S. Rep. Jim Banks announced he is running for the seat vacated by GOP Sen. Mike Brown when he ran for governor in 2024.
“With full credit and respect to the institution and those who serve in it, I conclude that this is simply not the job for me, not the city for me, and not the life I want to live at this time,” Daniels said in a statement issued by the longtime adviser.
Banks’ supporters have already criticized Daniels as not conservative enough and an “old-guard Republican,” signaling a line of attack for a nasty intra-party race in the GOP-dominated state.
Daniels, who was considered a 2012 presidential candidate with a conservative fiscal record, ended his eight years as governor in early 2013 with high approval ratings. He remained in the public eye for the past decade as the prominent president of Purdue University before stepping down in late December.
His decision leaves Banks as the only declared candidate some 15 months before Indiana’s 2024 primary.
Banks, 43, was first elected to Congress from a heavily Republican district in northeast Indiana in 2016, a year after returning from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan as part of the Marine Corps Reserve.
He has since become a frequent guest on Fox News Channel and a Trump ally who voted against confirming Joe Biden’s presidential victory after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. months later he rejected Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s selection of Banks as the top GOP member of the committee investigating the deadly Capitol riot, citing the need to protect the “integrity” of the review.
Rep. Victoria Spartz, in her second term from Indiana’s central district, is another Republican who has expressed interest in a Senate race. Ukrainian-born Spartz has been critical of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s government at times since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.
Banks were eager to bridge political divides. His video campaign announcement sparked controversy over transgender girls’ sports, blamed China for COVID-19 and claimed “anti-Americanism” was being pushed in schools and the military, criticizing both “radical Democrats and spineless Republicans.”
Daniels, who was President George W. Bush’s budget director and a senior executive at Eli Lilly & Co. based in Indianapolis before becoming governor, caused alarm among cultural conservatives as he considered running the White House in 2012 by saying that the next president facing an economic crisis “would have to call a truce on so-called social issues.”
Daniels said Tuesday that he did not believe he “would be well-suited for legislative office, particularly where seniority remains a significant factor in one’s effectiveness.”
Daniels said the country faces critical issues with its national debt, the stability of the protection program, aggression from China and the need “to secure our borders without depriving the nation of the talent and energy that grateful immigrants can bring.”
“I would try to work on these things in a way that might moderate the coarseness and personal rancor that has infected our public square, making it not only repugnant to millions of Americans, but less capable of effective action to respond to our threats and seize our opportunities.” ,” Daniels said.