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Senator Long remarks

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  • Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long is joined by his wife, Melissa, during Tuesday's news conference announcing his retirement. (Niki Kelly | The Journal Gazette)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 1:00 am

'It's time': Long says he's retiring

Senate president pro tem's final day Nov. 6

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – David Long of Fort Wayne, president pro tem of the Indiana Senate, stunned the Statehouse on Tuesday by announcing he will step down in November after 22 years in the chamber.

That will leave an opening in Senate District 16 as well as a vacancy at the top of the Republican leadership chain.

Long's term isn't up until 2020, but he called a surprise news conference Tuesday and added his name to a list of lawmakers who have recently left or announced plans not to seek re-election.

His last day will be Nov. 6.

“For me it's time,” he said. “Public service is a sacrifice. Financially for certain. But far more importantly, it's a sacrifice for your family. You're gone a lot. Every day is a work day because something always comes up.”

When not in the Senate, Long is general counsel for Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne. He is married to former local TV anchor Melissa Long and has two sons. She attended Tuesday's event alongside her husband.

This fall, a caucus of precinct committee members will meet to pick a successor to complete Long's term. He said the district, which covers portions of Whitley and Allen counties, is attractive and he expects stiff competition.

Long told reporters he considered not seeking re-election in 2016 but still wanted to accomplish several things, including another balanced budget, a road funding plan and building the Senate Republican bench.

“The beat goes on,” he said of the next generation. “It's their time.”

Long wouldn't say specifically who he would back as the next Senate president pro tem but did praise Sen. Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, who recently took over as majority floor leader.

Long met with Gov. Eric Holcomb privately Monday and informed close friends right before the event.

“For more than two decades, David has been a steady hand in the Statehouse no matter the subject or challenge. He is a humble servant leader, and our state owes many great accomplishments to him – though he would never say so,” Holcomb said. “I will miss his cool head and the continuity he brought to the General Assembly. I wish him a long and happy retirement, but I know he'll remain a mentor, adviser and trusted friend to many – including me.”

Long has served the Indiana Senate since 1996 and has led the chamber since 2006. Before being elected to the state Senate, Long served on the Fort Wayne City Council.

Though he has a supermajority of Republicans, it has been difficult at times for Long to wrangle the uber-conservative wing of the caucus with the more moderate one.

He listed a few of his accomplishments, which included implementing property tax caps to keep homeowner taxes low; passing the “right to work” law; establishing the Healthy Indiana Plan for low-income Hoosiers and getting an economy hitting on all cylinders.

Former state lawmaker Matt Bell said one of Long's biggest wins is the investment and growth at IPFW that Long oversaw.

“The way that campus is positioned to energize a next half century of growth, I think that's his legacy,” Bell said. “He's been a good leader.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma has served alongside Long his entire legislative career and gave him credit for helping with a top-rated business climate and balanced budgets.

“David has helped drive Indiana's success story, and his leadership and experience will be sorely missed at the Statehouse,” Bosma said.

Two other high-ranking and experienced Senate Republicans have left in recent months – Luke Kenley and Brandt Hershman, who helmed the Appropriations and Tax and Fiscal Policy committees, respectively.

Of the 41 members of the current Senate Republican caucus, only eight were in the Senate when Long was first tapped as president pro tem.

nkelly@jg.net