INDIANAPOLIS — Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, stunned Hoosier lawmakers Tuesday by announcing that he plans to give up his leadership post and resign his seat Nov. 6.
Long was quick to emphasize that his decision to leave the Statehouse solely is due to his feeling that "it is time," following 22 years as a state senator and 12 sessions as the chamber's leader. He also spent eight years on the Fort Wayne City Council.
"That's a long time. Some would say it's too long," Long said. "It is a sacrifice to be in public service, it really is. Financially, for certain. But, much more importantly than that, it's family that sacrifices."
Standing alongside his wife, Melissa, who recently retired as a Fort Wayne television news anchor, Long, 62, said he wants to take it easier going forward and spend more time enjoying life with his wife.
"As far as work, I'm not ready to sit on a beach all day and read a book. I can guarantee you that Melissa and I will be doing more of that," Long said. "But I'm a practicing attorney, with a job, and I intend to continue to work — just on my own terms."
As Senate leader since 2007, Long has had a hand in, and presided over, unprecedented transformational change for the state of Indiana.
That includes the enactment of property tax caps, a series of personal and corporate income tax cuts, the expansion of charter schools and the creation of private school vouchers, passage of Indiana's right-to-work law and the Healthy Indiana Plan, last year's approval of a 20-year road funding package and consistently balanced budgets.
"I feel like I've seen a lot of things accomplished that I hoped to see done," Long said. "I feel like the Senate is in good hands with this new generation....I know it will continue to do well; it's a great body of people."
Long declined to identify a preferred successor to lead the 50-member chamber that currently has 41 Republican senators.
The Senate GOP caucus, assuming it retains a majority, will pick a new Senate president after Long's resignation is official on Election Day.
Fort Wayne-area precinct committeemen separately will choose a new senator to finish the two years remaining in Long's term.
State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, who serves on Long's leadership team, said Long has done "a fantastic job creating a bench" of possible replacements in the Senate.
"I can't say enough about how impressed I have been with his ability to lead," Charbonneau said. "He has done it, I think, masterfully, and I'll be forever thankful for how he helped me."
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement that he wishes Long "a long and happy retirement," but that Long also will remain "a mentor, adviser and trusted friend to many — including me."
Long is the third top Senate leader to call it quits in recent months, following the departures of former Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, and Tax and Fiscal Policy Chairman Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek.