Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: 2024 Senate race attracting national attention

Jan. 21—Although the election for a U.S. Senate seat in Indiana is not until 2024, the battle for the Republican Party nomination is already attracting national attention.

Incumbent Republican Mike Braun has already announced he won't seek a second Senate term, instead choosing to run for the party's gubernatorial nomination.

The national website Politico is describing the battle as a "civil war" that will determine the philosophical direction of the party.

Recently Republican Greg Ballard, the former mayor of Indianapolis, posted an interesting message on Twitter regarding not only politics in Indiana but at the national level.

"I hope 2023 is the year that the great middle of the country, the centrist Democrats, the centrist Republicans, and the independents begin to assert their voices more forcefully," Ballard wrote. "We've let the extreme wings on both sides dominate the narrative for too long."

Previous Indiana members of Congress like Richard Lugar, Birch Bayh and Lee Hamilton had a record of working with members of both parties — something lacking currently in a deadlocked federal government.

Congressman Jim Banks has already announced his intentions to seek the Senate nomination. He has a record of staunchly supporting former President Donald Trump.

Since resigning as president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels has been the subject of much speculation that he will seek the nomination.

Even before declaring his candidacy, Daniels has been attacked in television ads by the conservative Club for Growth as being a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Supporters of Daniels have indicated he would like to bring the party's philosophy back to the era of one of its most popular presidents, Ronald Reagan.

Many political observers believe a Daniels candidacy would keep other prospective candidates for the nomination out of the 2024 primary.

Daniels was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2001 as director of the Office of Management and Budget and earned the nickname "The Blade" for his efforts in restraining federal spending.

Daniels served two terms as Indiana governor, winning elections in 2004 and 2008 and helping to pass property tax reforms.

Current Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is reportedly interested in a Senate campaign, along with Rep. Victoria Spartz and former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

Spartz plans to announce her decision by the end of February.

One thing is a certainty: It will be an expensive primary in 2024.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.