Indianapolis councillor to run for U.S. Senate, joining growing field competing for open seat

Potts Mug

Keith Potts, current Indianapolis City-County Council member, announced he is running for U.S. Senate.

INDIANAPOLIS—Keith Potts, an Indianapolis City-County Council member, kickstarted his U.S. Senate campaign Thursday, joining former state Rep. Marc Carmichael as the two Democrats vying for the seat opening up in 2024.

“Every Hoosier, and every American, deserves to have a government that will help them pursue the American Dream by making it easier to raise a family, protecting private healthcare decisions, and ensuring no one lives in fear that their freedoms may be taken away,” Potts said in a press release. “That future is possible, and we can get there if we go together.”

The Senate seat will be open because Sen. Mike Braun is running for the Indiana governorship instead of pursuing another term on Capitol Hill.

Potts, elected to the city-county council four years ago, made freedom the theme of his announcement video, touching on his veteran grandfather, abortion and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks.

The Statehouse File reached out to Banks and Potts but neither responded by deadline.

Besides Banks, John Rust, Rose Acre Farms’ chairman of the board, is also running for the Senate as a Republican. 

In a campaign video, Potts talked about his grandfather. “He defended freedom when he invaded Normandy on D-Day,” Potts said. “He taught me freedom isn’t guaranteed, that it’s something we have to keep fighting for every day.”

Potts’ voiceover also asks, “Will we be free to make our own health-care decisions?” while showing viewers Gov. Eric Holcomb and a breaking news graphic that reads, “INDIANA PASSES NEAR-TOTAL BAN ON ABORTIONS.”

Before getting involved in politics, Potts attended the Boston Conservatory of Music, graduating in 2012, and then found work all across the country as a musician, eventually settling in Indiana.

In 2018, Potts worked for Sen. Joe Donnelly—who occupied the seat Potts is currently running for.

Donnelly lost that year to Braun by six percentage points, but Potts won his seat on the city-council in 2019.

After touting his accomplishments on the council—including fighting for both small-business owners and “our freedom to feel safe in our neighborhoods”—Potts asks a question in the video: “Will the next generation have more freedom or less freedom than when my grandpa fought at D-Day?”

Potts’ suggestion that Americans could have less freedom than in 1944 paints a picture of a potentially dire future: When D-Day occurred, there were Japanese Americans in internment camps, the country was still 20 years away from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Supreme Court had yet to hand down decisions in cases like Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia that solidified rights for African Americans.

Both Potts and Carmichael have positioned themselves strongly against Banks, seeming to assume he’ll be their competition if they advance through the primary.

Banks has secured support from former president Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who is running to replace term-limited Holcomb in 2024.

Jim Banks Photo

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks speaking at the Northeast Indiana Defense Summit in June. Banks is looking to fill the U.S. Senate seat that will be open in 2024 due to Sen. Mike Braun running for the Indiana governorship instead of reelection.

Potts attacked Banks for voting against the November 2021 infrastructure bill, speaking out against the U.S. House’s Jan. 6th committee and for “leading the charge to cut Social Security.”

Banks “put out a plan that would raise the retirement age for Social Security, among other benefit reductions” in 2022, according to The Washington Post.

Carmichael, whose stint as a state representative lasted from 1986 to 1991, spent two decades as the Indiana Beverage Alliance’s president from 1999 to 2020, according to The Indianapolis Star.

“We deserve better than to be represented by someone as mean-spirited, blindly partisan and out of touch with the majority of Hoosiers as Jim Banks,” a press release from Carmichael said. “His attacks on innocent LGBTQ children for purely political gain are disgusting and his vote against certifying the Biden election and dishonest rhetoric on FOX News after that election help [sic] lead to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He should be ashamed.”

In 1996, Carmichael was the Democratic nominee for a U.S. House seat but lost to David McIntosh, taking just under 40% of the vote.

Inside Elections and The Cook Political Report, as of May, have the seat rated as “solid Republican.”

Indiana’s primary date is May 7, 2024, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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