US Senator Mike Braun submits paperwork for Indiana’s gubernatorial election

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Braun formally created a committee for a 2024 gubernatorial campaign in his home state of Indiana on Wednesday, a move that would forego reelection for his Senate seat.

Braun, the 68-year-old wealthy founder of a national auto parts distributor, is the most prominent of several active potential Republican candidates for the field to replace GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, who is barred from running for re-election due to term limits.

Braun would be strongly favored to win a second Senate term in 2024 from Republican-dominated Indiana after fueling his successful 2018 Senate campaign with more than $11 million in personal loans to walk from a little-known businessman to overthrow Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.

Josh Kelley, Braun’s chief of staff and senior policy adviser, confirmed the campaign application to the Indiana Election Division and said in an email that Braun “will be making an official announcement of his candidacy very soon.”

Braun emerged in 2018 as a strong supporter of then-President Donald Trump and has often allied closely with the most conservative members of the US Senate Republicans while lamenting the pace of Senate deliberations. He backed Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s failed attempt this month to unseat Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. saying in a statement that “Hoosier conservative Republicans are sick of the status quo.”

Braun had announced that he would vote against accepting electoral college votes from some states that Democrat Joe Biden won over Trump in the 2020 election. But he changed his mind after the January 6, 2021 uprising at the US Capitol, saying the violence “changed things drastically” and that he would “vote to get this ugly day over with.”

He recently split from fellow Indiana Republicans and publicly denounced Holcomb’s decision vetoed a GOP-backed bill in March that would ban transgender girls from competing on Indiana girls’ sports teams.

Braun also split from Indiana’s GOP Sen. Todd Young, who won re-election in November by voting Tuesday against legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriages across the country. Braun told reporters earlier this year that the US Supreme Court was wrong in its 1967 decision legalizing interracial marriage nationwidewhile he later said he misunderstood the question.

Democratic state Chairman Mike Schmuhl blamed Braun for his vote on the marriage bill and his rejection of Biden’s COVID-19 economic recovery programs.

“Mike Braun has done very little to improve Indiana as a U.S. Senator, and he certainly won’t do it as governor,” Schmuhl said in a statement. “Braun’s half-hearted efforts were ineffective, and he was more likely to be seen on national cable TV shows than to talk to Hoosiers in real life about solving real problems.”

Indiana’s open governorship has many possible candidates.

Lt. gov. Suzanne Crouch, who was Holcomb’s running mate in 2016 and 2020, has raised more than $2 million for an unannounced campaign, and Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden has raised a similar sum since he launched a campaign last year.

Republican US Rep. Trey Hollingsworth alluded to a possible run for other political offices when he announced in January that he would not seek re-election – and some Republicans are hoping former Gov. Mitch Daniels will seek a return to the State House after he ends as Purdue University president resigned December.

Braun said two weeks ago that he would not be discouraged by the possible Republican field for the governor and that he would not spend his own money on a 2024 campaign again.

Two Republicans allegedly interested in running for the Senate seat if Braun is not re-elected are US Rep. Jim Bankswho unsuccessfully sought a top House Republican position Earlier this month and US Representative Victoria Spartz.

Discussions about possible statewide Democratic candidates for 2024 focused on Donnelly, who is now President Joe Biden’s ambassador to the Vatican, and former state school leader Jennifer McCormick, who won the election as a Republican in 2016 but has since been resigned after disputes with the Leaders of the Republican Statehouse has switched parties over education policy.