State Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, announced this afternoon that he will seek Indiana's 3rd District seat in the U.S. House next year.
Banks, a Navy Reserve officer, set a pair of his combat boots on the stage at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne, then pledged to advocate for a stronger national defense and help military veterans who receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I realize there is more I must do to serve our country," said Banks, a commercial real estate broker who recently returned from an eight-month deployment in Afghanistan as a supply corps officer.
"We will talk about cleaning up the bureaucratic mess that is the VA, we will talk about supporting our troops and strengthening our military that has been weakened by the current administration," he said.
"We will talk about creating jobs right here in the 3rd Congressional District by once and for all ending the medical device tax and by protecting and growing the 122nd Fighter Wing," he said.
The 122nd Fighter Wing is an Air National Guard base on the south side of Fort Wayne. The 2.3 percent medical device tax, which funds the federal Affordable Care Act, is paid by orthopedic device manufacturers in the 3rd District.
Banks is among three Republican candidates who since Monday afternoon have announced, one way or another, that they will run for the northeast Indiana congressional seat. Warsaw resident Pam Galloway, a retired physician and former Wisconsin Republican state lawmaker, announced her candidacy by email. State Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, posted on her website that she is a congressional candidate and will release details May 27.
All three seek to replace Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman, a fifth-year member of Congress who declared Saturday that he will make a bid for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Sen. Dan Coats.
Coats announced in late March that he will not seek a second consecutive term when his seat is up for election in 2016. Eric Holcomb, a former chairman of the state GOP, also is running to succeed Coats.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, endorsed Banks' candidacy at Tuesday's announcement, which packed the local GOP building with elected officials, municipal election candidates and party workers.
Long said the 3rd District representative must understand the Constitution and states rights, oppose abortion rights, have experience balancing a budget, boast a record of fiscal conservatism and be able to work with others.
"In Jim Banks we have a person who has all of these characteristics and more," Long said. "Most importantly, he is a good man, a good father and a good husband, and that counts high in my book."
Banks, 35, said his accomplishments at the General Assembly have included helping cut taxes and repeal the estate tax, improve educational opportunities for children, restrict abortion rights, protect guns rights and limit the size and scope of state government.
Banks, who was first elected to the state Senate in 2010, said his type of conservative leadership is "sorely and desperately needed" on Capitol Hill.