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Valerie McCray wins Democratic U.S. Senate primary, making Indiana history

McCray wears oversized, bedazzled sunglasses on a dance floor illuminated in purple and blue lights.
Abigail Ruhman
IPB News
Dr. Valerie McCray celebrates with supporters after winning her primary bid against Marc Carmichael. McCray is the first Black woman to be a nominee for U.S. Senate in Indiana history.

Valerie McCray won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate Tuesday — making history in the process.

McCray is the first Black woman to be a nominee for U.S. Senate in Indiana history.

The clinical psychologist called her campaign “the little engine that could” — one that secured the primary victory on a shoestring budget.

“My team was worth a million dollars,” McCray said. “It didn’t matter how much we had in our account; our team was just awesome.”

As McCray looks ahead to the November election, she said it won’t be hard to draw a distinction between herself and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City).

“I think that people will gravitate to the fact that I’m a different type of candidate,” McCray said. “I’m not your typical candidate. I’m not a career politician — and people want something different.”

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McCray will face off against Banks and Libertarian Andrew Horning this fall.

In a statement, Banks — who was unopposed in the GOP primary — said Indiana “deserves unwavering conservative leadership in the Senate.”

“I will fight to secure our border, get our economy back on track and defeat the radical left’s woke agenda,” Banks said.

No Democrat has won any statewide race in more than a decade.

Indiana Public Broadcasting's Abigail Ruhman contributed to this story.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.