GOP Indiana lawmaker joins race to replace Congressman Banks

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The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (IL file photo)

A Republican state senator entered the race Thursday to replace Rep. Jim Banks in the northeastern Indiana congressional seat that Banks is giving up for his bid to join the U.S. Senate.

Indiana Sen. Andy Zay

Sen. Andy Zay of Huntington announced his campaign for the heavily Republican 3rd District seat that will be decided next year.

Zay said in his announcement that President Joe Biden’s administration has “failed,” blaming it for high inflation and economic troubles. Zay is the first elected official to enter the congressional race, although the field of candidates could grow.

Banks first won the seat in 2016 after narrowly winning a six-candidate Republican primary.

Zay, who owns a vehicle leasing business, replaced Banks in the state Senate in 2017 by winning a vote among Republican precinct committee members. He easily won reelection in 2018 and 2022.

Congressman Jim Banks

Zay has been among the state Senate’s conservative votes, including supporting the statewide abortion ban adopted last summer and voting last week in favor of a bill that would ban all gender-affirming care for those younger than 18.

Zay faced criticism in 2018 after a resident made public a 2015 Facebook direct-message exchange in which Zay wrote “racism is not real” and lamented the plight of white men.

Zay said he should have been “more careful with my words” and that he did believe racism existed.

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