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What you need to know about the open 2024 U.S. Senate race in Indiana

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Hoosier Democrats hired Indianapolis clinical psychologist Valerie McCray in the Indiana primary last week to fight Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks for the state's open U.S. Senate seat in November. Libertarian Andrew Horning is also running in the general election.

A campaign against banks will not be an easy task. National election forecasters like the Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball both list Indiana's 2024 U.S. Senate race as a solid and safe Republican seat. It's an open seat after Sen. Mike Braun decided not to run for re-election and instead run for governor.

But there are still months until the general election on November 5th, and a lot can still happen before then. Here are answers to five questions about the November election for Indiana's open Senate seat.

Who are candidates for U.S. Senate in Indiana?

Three candidates are running for Indiana's open U.S. Senate seat: Republican Jim Banks, Democrat Valerie McCray and Libertarian Andrew Horning.

Banks, of Columbia City, represents Indiana's 3rd District in Congress. Banks ran unopposed for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary on May 7.

McCray, a clinical psychologist in Indianapolis, defeated former Rep. Marc Carmichael in the May 7 Democratic primary.

Horning, a resident of Freedom in Owen County, retired from his work in medical technology development in 2023. Horning was selected at the Indiana Libertarians convention earlier this year.

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What electoral or campaign experience do the candidates have?

Banks leads all three candidates in voting experience. The Republican congressman was first elected to represent Northeast Indiana in Congress in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018, 2020 and 2022. He has earned a reputation as an outspoken, socially conservative voice in the House of Representatives and has also introduced related bills during his time in office to help veterans. Banks is a veteran of the Navy Reserves and served before Congress in the Indiana State Senate and the Whitley County Council.

McCray has never held elected office, but ran for president in 2020 with a focus on mental health care before dropping out of the race. McCray's campaign said the Democrat is the first Black candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana history.

Horning has run as a Libertarian in previous elections, including in the 8th Congressional District in 2014, 2016 and 2022. Horning previously ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, when Hoosiers voted for Democrat Joe Donnelly, and for governor in 2008 former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Democrat Jill Long Thompson.

How much money and support do candidates currently have?

Banks is swimming in donations and support from top Republicans in and outside Indiana. At the top of the list of supporters is former President Donald Trump, who remains very popular in the Hoosier State. According to federal election reports from mid-April, banks said they had received about $4.7 million and spent about $3.1 million so far this election cycle.

According to federal reports, McCray raised just under $15,000 and spent about $15,700 during the same period. As of mid-April, there were no reports of Horning's campaign contributions.

From 2023: Donald Trump supports Jim Banks for US Senate

How did Hoosiers vote in the recent U.S. Senate election?

In Indiana's final U.S. Senate election of 2022, voters re-elected Republican Senator Todd Young to another term in Washington, D.C. Young won the election that year by nearly 21 percentage points over Democrat Tom McDermott. Libertarian James Sceniak won about 3% of the total vote in 2022.

In 2018, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, who is the Republican nominee for governor that year, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly by 6 percentage points.

Can a Democrat or Libertarian win Indiana's U.S. Senate seat in 2024?

Anything can happen in politics, but it seems highly unlikely that Democrats or Libertarians have a chance at Indiana's open Senate seat.

The last time Hoosiers elected a Democrat to the Senate was Donnelly in 2012, and Indiana has only gotten redder in the years since former President Donald Trump won the state handily in 2016 and 2020. With Trump at the top of the ticket in the November general election, it's hard to see a path for anyone other than Banks.

Contact IndyStar state government and politics reporter Brittany Carloni at brittany.carloni@indystar.com or 317-779-4468. Follow her on Twitter/X@CarloniBrittany.

Anna Harden

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