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Senate GOP Leader Long Announces Retirement

Brandon Smith
IPB News

Senate President Pro Tem David Long announced Tuesday he will retire after 22 years in the chamber.

Standing beside his wife Melissa, who recently retired herself, Long (R-Fort Wayne) said he’s stepping down in November “for the right reasons.”

“I’ve seen a lot of things accomplished that I hoped to see done,” Long said. “I feel like the Senate’s in good hands with this new generation.”

Long points to Right to Work, school vouchers, property tax caps, and tax cuts as notable accomplishments.

The surprise announcement generated praise for the retiring lawmaker from legislative leaders of both parties.

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) has served with Long his entire legislative career – they worked on several issues together before moving into leadership roles. Lanane said Long has been a good leader for the state.

“From my perspective as the minority leader, he’s been fair to deal with. He’s always been very civil, courteous,” Lanane said.

In a statement, Gov. Eric Holcomb called Long a “steady hand in the Statehouse.”

“He is a humble servant leader and our state owes many great accomplishments to him,” Holcomb said.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) has worked closely with Long as they’ve lead their respective chambers. Bosma praised Long’s record but notes his departure is a reminder that no one is indispensable to the legislature.

“He has great opportunity for others to step forward and assume a leadership role,” Bosma said.

Long’s departure creates an opening at the top of the Senate Republican caucus. Long said he’ll let those still in the chamber decide who replaces him as leader.

“There’s some genuinely talented people that can do the job, I can tell you that,” Long said.

Political analyst John Ketzenberger said a new Senate Republican leader could mean an ideological shift for the caucus.

“The increasingly large and more powerful religious conservative wing of the Senate will probably hold sway,” Ketzenberger said.

Long’s pending departure also follows the resignations in recent months of two other powerful Senate Republicans – budget architect Luke Kenley and Long deputy Brandt Hershman.

Political analyst Ed Feigenbaum said their absence creates a “tremendous problem” for the Senate as its prepares to write a new state budget next year.

“To try to come up with leaders who are trusted and who understand the process enough to step in and pick up without any kind of detriment from where those leaders left off,” Feigenbaum said.

GOP precinct committee people will fill Long’s Senate seat after he officially steps down in November.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.