NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: We will miss David Long’s leadership

David Long, we’ll miss you.

The Republican president pro tem of the Indiana State Senate announced Tuesday he will retire Nov. 6, Election Day. He has served in the Senate for 22 years, the past 12 as its leader. Prior to that he served eight years on the Fort Wayne City Council.

Long’s term doesn’t end until 2020, but he said in a news conference he’s decided now is the time to leave.

“None of us is indispensable,” Long said, “and you have to know when the time is right to step away. For me, that time is now. … I want everyone to know I’m retiring for the right reason: Because it’s time. And for no other reason.”

A committee of Republican Party leaders in Senate District 16 will select a replacement for his empty Fort Wayne Senate seat. Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, who Long named as majority floor leader is considered one of the top contenders to fill the job as Senate leader.

“For more than two decades, David has been a steady hand in the Statehouse no matter the subject or challenge,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said after meeting with Long on Monday.

“He is a humble servant leader, and our state owes many great accomplishments to him — though he would never say so. I will miss his cool head and the continuity he brought to the General Assembly.”

Among Long’s accomplishments while leading the Senate: property tax caps, the right to work law, a long-term road funding plan, one of the nation’s largest school choice programs, a fully paid, 20-year transportation plan, the Healthy Indiana Plan for low-income Hoosiers, a surging economy and balanced budgets for 13 consecutive years.

“David has helped drive Indiana’s success story,” House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, told CNHI news, “and his leadership and experience will be sorely missed at the Statehouse.”

While we haven’t agreed with everything Long has said or done, believes he has been a strong conservative leader in the Senate and a forceful pro-life advocate. He will only be 63 when he gives up his gavel to devote more time to his job as general counsel for Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne Inc.

That seems too young, and his experience seems too crucial to yield at this time.

But his humility and wisdom were evident Tuesday when he said, “This next generation of senators, young and older, it is really their time to take the reins. I feel good about my time in the Statehouse, and now it’s their time.”