INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The Republican leader of the Indiana Senate said on Tuesday that he will
step down from the Legislature later this year, making him the third
high-profile GOP lawmaker to announce their departure from the chamber over
the last year.
Pro Tem David Long said “it is time” for him to move on after roughly 30
years in elected office - first as a member of the Fort Wayne City Council,
later as a state senator, and for the last 12 years as the GOP senate
“I’m not ready to
sit on a beach all day,” Long said during a Statehouse press conference
flanked by his wife, Melissa, a former Fort Wayne TV news anchor. “I intend
to continue to work, just on my own terms.”
Long plans to
remain leader until November, when he intends to step down. He declined to
endorse a successor, though he said several senators would be good
candidates, including current Majority Floor Leader Rodric Bray of
Sen. Travis Holdman
of Markle is also considered a top contender. On Tuesday, Holdman said
simply: “I’d never close a door.”
Republicans hold a
commanding 41-9 majority in the Senate and GOP members will pick a new
leader next fall.
departure comes after former Senate budget writer Luke Kenley retired after
the 2017 session, and Senate floor leader Brandt Hershman quit in January to
take a job in Washington D.C.
“It’s difficult to
leave a job that you love and that you believe you were born to do,” said
Long. “However, none of us is indispensable, and you have to know when the
time is right to step away. For me, that time is now.”
high-profile Statehouse leaders have also announced plans to leave the
Legislature, including longtime Reps. William Friend and Kathy Richardson,
both Republicans, as well as Scott Pelath, who was Democratic Minority
Leader until November 2017.
Long has been the
Senate’s leader since 2006 and was first elected to the chamber 22 years
He counted among
his accomplishments the passage legislation cutting and capping taxes, an
anti-union law that curtailed the power of labor organizations to collect
dues, the creation of the state’s health care plan for poor people, and a
tax hike approved last year to pay for infrastructure improvements.
But there have also
been difficulties along the way. Long faced a primary challenger in 2016 who
opposed his unsuccessful attempt that year to extend state
anti-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
This year, he
unsuccessfully pushed for Indiana to pass a hate crimes law, legislation
that was killed amid opposition from within the Senate Republican caucus.
The state is one of just five without a law targeting so-called crimes of
bias and during a press conference last month, he pledged that the state
would eventually pass one. That will now have to be done without him.
House Speaker Brian
Bosma had nothing but praise.
“David has helped
drive Indiana’s success story and his leadership and experience will be
sorely missed at the Statehouse,” the Indianapolis Republican said. “It’s
been an honor to serve alongside him and call him my friend.”