INDIANAPOLIS – Former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels won’t run for the U.S. Senate.

Daniels, who recently stepped down as president of Purdue University, had considered entering the race to replace Sen. Mike Braun, who announced he would not run for reelection.

As first reported Tuesday by Politico, Daniels decided it simply wasn’t for him. In a statement, he said he would’ve been a one-term senator if had he been elected:

After what I hope was adequate reflection, I’ve decided not to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate.  With full credit and respect for the institution and those serving in it, I conclude that it’s just not the job for me, not the town for me, and not the life I want to live at this point.

I have often expressed a preference for the citizen servant approach to public life. I believe that politics and government are worthy pursuits, which men and women of good will should undertake if they can, not as a life’s work or an end in itself, but to try to ensure that the important realms of society – the private economy, our voluntary associations, local communities and neighborhoods, and especially families – can all flourish.  

I’ve likewise tried to keep in mind President Reagan’s observation that some people seek public office to be something, others to do something.  My one tour of duty in elected office involved, like those in business before and academe after it, an action job, with at least the chance to do useful things every day.  I have never imagined that I would be well-suited to legislative office, particularly where seniority remains a significant factor in one’s effectiveness, and I saw nothing in my recent explorations that altered that view. 

Had I chosen to compete, given my age, I would have done so on an explicitly one-term basis.  I would have returned any unspent campaign funds to their donors, closed any political accounts, and devoted six years to causes I think critical to the long-term safety and prosperity of our country. 

These issues include saving the safety net programs, so that we can keep promises we have made to older and vulnerable Americans and avoid a terrible national crisis of confidence and betrayal; in so doing, to avoid crushing our economy and today’s younger citizens with the unpayable debts we are on course to leave them; to confront firmly the aggression of a would-be superpower who holds in contempt the values of personal freedom and individual dignity central to our national success and our view of a just society; to secure our borders without depriving the nation of the talent and energy that grateful immigrants can bring.

And I would have tried to work on these matters in a way that might soften the harshness and personal vitriol that has infected our public square, rendering it not only repulsive to millions of Americans, but also less capable of effective action to meet our threats and seize our opportunities.

Maybe I can find ways to contribute that do not involve holding elective office.  If not, there is so much more to life. People obsessed with politics or driven by personal ambition sometimes have difficulty understanding those who are neither.  I hope to be understood as a citizen and patriot who thought seriously, but not tediously, about how to be deserving of those labels and simply decided the U.S. Senate was not the only way.

Mitch Daniels

Daniels went to Washington, D.C., last week to consult with several Republicans. Some of his advisers had even recruited a potential campaign manager and were in the process of preparing the paperwork for a Senate run, according to Politico.

Daniels, who served two terms as Indiana governor, also mulled a presidential run in 2012 before deciding against it, citing the strain it would place on his family.

Rep. Jim Banks has announced his intention to run for Senate. Braun has filed paperwork to run for Indiana governor.

Banks released a statement:

“As I’ve said before, I respect Governor Daniels and I learned a lot from him when I served in the Statehouse. I’m excited about the early momentum and support for our campaign but we’ve got a long way to go. Over the next two years, I’m going to work hard every day to make my case to Hoosier voters that I’m best prepared to be their conservative Senator in Washington.”

Rep. Jim Banks

The Indiana Democratic Party responded to Daniels’ announcement with a statement:

“It looks like Mitch Daniels won’t turn back the clocks and re-enter Hoosier politics.
His announcement today shows that there’s little room in today’s Indiana Republican Party for candidates who don’t pledge allegiance to Donald Trump before anything else.

“Daniel’s ‘no social issues’ mantra would have had a tough time winning a GOP primary in Indiana and the knives were already drawn from groups saying that Daniels was a relic of the past (see: Club for Growth and its blistering ad).

“The fact is Indiana has an F rated quality-of-life for families, a D- rated workforce for workers (thanks, ‘Right to Work’), a C- rated education system for students, the third worst maternal mortality rate, and the most polluted waterways in the nation – and it all started with Mitch Daniels.

“Hoosiers deserve honest leadership that will put an end to extremist politics and chart a new course for a modern and better Indiana where everyone has the freedom to thrive. Indiana Democrats remain focused on running strong candidates who will fight for Hoosier families, students, workers, and seniors.

“Mitch Daniels can finally ride his motorcycle into the sunset and leave us all alone.”

Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party