Indiana Sen. Mike Braun is leaning toward running for governor in 2024, a move that would open up a GOP-held seat in what's become a reliably red state, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The loquacious first-term senator said on Thursday that he's not making an official statement at this point.
"Where'd you hear that? I'll make my mind up here down the road, probably before the end of the year. I've been talking about it though since I've got here," Braun said in a brief interview. "I'll make a formal announcement somewhere probably late November, early December."
Indy Politics reported on Thursday that Braun is informing Republicans in the state about his plans to run for governor and that he will announce after the midterm election, a move typical of lawmakers who are eyeing new offices. Braun's office declined further comment.
Braun defeated former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), a key pick-up in the 2018 elections that allowed Republicans some breathing room in the chamber during the last two years of Donald Trump's presidency. In winning the GOP nomination, the Indiana businessman dispatched former Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, memorably portraying each as cardboard cutouts in a TV ad.
As a longtime executive - he was the founder and CEO of a distributing company - Republicans believe Braun's long been planning a potential run for the state's executive office. As a GOP senator, Braun's assembled a reliably conservative voting record and talked about his party's need to make plans to confront issues like health care and energy.
"In 2018, Mike Braun won a very competitive primary, he's been a rock-ribbed conservative, and as a former CEO, serving as the next governor of Indiana fits him better than sitting in Washington," said one Republican who knows Braun, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Should Braun make the leap, it would almost certainly invite a crowded GOP primary for his Senate seat in 2024. Braun's term expires then, meaning he'll have to choose between the governor's race and his own reelection campaign.