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McCray wins Democrat nomination to challenge Banks in race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat


McCray wins Democrat nomination to challenge Banks in race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat

May 07, 2024 | 8:15 pm ET
By Casey Smith
McCray wins Democrat nomination to challenge Banks in race for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks will face Democrat Dr. Valarie McCray in the race for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat this November. (Photo illusrtation by Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle; Photos by Leslie Bonilla Muñiz, and from McCray's campaign website)

Democrat Dr. Valerie McCray will face off against Republican Congressman Jim Banks in the race for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat after both candidates earned widespread primary voter support on Tuesday.

The Associated Press declared McCray, a clinical psychologist, the winner at 7 p.m., with results showing her leading over her challenger, former state lawmaker and longtime lobbyist Marc Carmichael.

At the time the race was called, McCray led with about 65% of the statewide vote. Carmichael trailed in a distant second at around 34%. That lead grew to more than 68% with 84% of the vote counted.

With the win, McCray becomes the first Black woman to become a nominee for the U.S. Senate in Indiana.

“The fact that I can claim victory in the Primary says one thing – the people of Indiana are ready for someone who understands their struggles.  Who will fight for mental health care, breathable wages, and reproductive rights!” she said in a statement.

McCray said about a short 24-hour break she will turn to the general election.

“Defeating Jim Banks will be a huge mountain to climb. It will take more money, more hard work and more volunteers than ever before,” she said.

On the Republican side, Banks made his nomination official after appearing on the primary ballot unopposed. Seymour egg farmer John Rust was removed due to Indiana’s two-primary rule.

Banks and McCray also will have a Libertarian opponent, Andrew Horning, in the general election. He was selected as the party’s candidate during its annual convention in March.

The Senate seat is being vacated by Republican Mike Braun, who clinched the GOP nomination in Indiana’s gubernatorial race on Tuesday. 

“We have a mess to clean up. This country can’t take any more of what we’re getting from the worst president in American history, Joe Biden, in the White House,” Banks said Tuesday night while giving a victory speech in Fort Wayne. “I’m going to be doing everything that I can to remove him from the White House, get Donald Trump back in the White House, and do what we have to do to get this country great again, strong again — get the policies back in place that put America first.”

McCray previously told the Indiana Capital Chronicle that reinstating abortion rights, tackling ongoing immigration issues and finding solutions to the “Israeli-Palestine issue” are among her top priorities, if elected in November.

She’s championing mental and reproductive healthcare, emphasizing that her work in the field, as well as her “personal and up close experiences as a female,” make her best suited to tackle policy solutions on those topics.

“Dr. McCray is a lifelong champion in mental healthcare, and understands we must invest in our communities to ensure every Hoosier has access to the best healthcare in the country,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl in a written statement, following the announcement of McCray’s win. “Dr. McCray will be a vote to codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land, and protect women’s healthcare on the federal level. It stands in stark contrast to Republican nominee and Trump sycophant Jim Banks, who is pushing a nationwide ban on medication abortion, and restricting access to birth control for millions of families.”

“She will be a voice for solutions as Indiana’s next senator,” Schmuhl continued. “She will work across the aisle to tackle the scourge of addiction, support comprehensive immigration reform, and bring good, high-wage, union jobs to Indiana.”

Carmichael vs. McCray: Two Democrats vie to face off against Banks in U.S. Senate race

The Democrat first launched a Senate campaign two years ago. She didn’t get enough voter signatures to make it on the ballot, however.

But this time around, McCray said her grassroots team was “relentless,” reaching the 4,500 signatures needed “with time to spare.”

Banks, the GOP favorite, has already spent nearly eight years in Congress, has a multimillion-dollar campaign war chest and an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. Even so, McCray said she’s confident she can win over Banks in this November’s general election. Hoosiers, she said, are looking for someone more moderate and less “extreme.”

Federal campaign finance data shows McCray trailed both Banks and Carmichael, though. 

Carmichael raised nearly $112,000 through mid-April. McCray has raised just below $15,000. 

Banks, meanwhile, has raised more than $4.7 million this election cycle. There are no federal reports on Horning’s Senate fundraising so far.

“Congressman Banks has been an excellent representative for the 3rd congressional district. He has a lengthy resume of being a conservative fighter who always puts the United States and Indiana first,” said Indiana Republican Party Chairwoman Anne Hathaway in a Tuesday statement. “We are looking forward to working with Congressman Banks through November to keep this Senate seat red.”