- Associated Press - Monday, May 14, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Senate Republicans selected a new leader Monday to replace outgoing President Pro Tem David Long.

Sen. Rodric Bray of Martinsville was chosen during a closed-door meeting of the Senate GOP caucus - a vote that had been inevitable since Long announced in February that he was retiring from the Legislature.

Bray had been Senate floor leader, a position he was appointed to in December. His ascension to leader of the caucus was made possible by the retirement of three heavyweight Senate Republicans over the last year.

The departure of former floor leader Brandt Hershman, former Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley and the impending departure of Long has created opportunities for up-and-coming lawmakers.

But it has also contributed to a leadership vacuum that some believe contributed to the unruly finale to this year’s legislative session, which ended in GOP bickering and acrimony. That led Gov. Eric Holcomb to call this week’s special session to wrap unfinished business up.

Bray’s primary rival in the race was social conservative Sen. Travis Holdman of Markle.

Republicans, who control the chamber with a supermajority, would not divulge what Bray’s winning vote tally was, though Bray said it was a “comfortable margin.”

Bray said the campaign for the top leadership spot was run clean and said that he doesn’t expect lingering hard feeling with Holdman that could divide the caucus.

“At no period of time did we create any sort of hot spot or tension between us,” Bray said. “He gave us congratulations and offered to work with us. So his supporters are going to do the same.”

Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper was selected as Bray’s second in command.

Bray said he didn’t anticipate making “wholesale changes” to the Senate’s leadership structure. But he added that some “tweaks” will be made.

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