Politics

Longtime Republican state Sen. Dan Seum, who broke party ranks to endorse Democrat Andy Beshear in the Kentucky governor’s race, has announced his retirement from the legislature later this month.

The Louisville lawmaker sent a letter to Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday saying he’ll step down on Nov. 16.

Seum, a key player in the GOP’s historic takeover of the Kentucky Senate two decades ago, stirred things up again this past summer when he endorsed Beshear. In doing so, Seum lashed out at Bevin’s handling of the state pension issue and Bevin’s feud with public education groups, noting he has teachers in his family.

With the election coming up Tuesday, Seum continued his tongue-lashing of his party’s standard-bearer.

“We’ve got a governor who wants to govern by insult,” Seum said in a phone interview Saturday. “I don’t understand that whole concept at all.”

Bevin’s campaign did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Seum, 79, served as a Democrat in the state House from 1982 to 1988, before moving to the state Senate in 1989. After two years out of office, Seum was elected to the Senate again in the mid-1990s, where he has served ever since.

Two decades ago, his switch to the GOP helped give Republicans majority control of the chamber. Republicans now have overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers as part of their dominance of Kentucky politics.

Seum represents Bullitt County and part of Louisville and formerly served as a member of Senate leadership as majority caucus chairman.

Seum sponsored a bill to legalize marijuana in Kentucky, promoting cannabis as a way to raise revenue for the state. The proposal died, but on Saturday he predicted that the state eventually will legalize it in “one form or another.” An effort to legalize medical marijuana is expected again in next year’s legislative session.

Seum also advocated, without success, for legalizing casinos and sports gambling as other lucrative revenue resources.