Allan Kittleman resigned as Senate Republican Leader because “I think it’s important to speak out on the issues I believe in,” rather than representing the views of his more conservative caucus, he told reporters Tuesday.

Kittleman, who represents Howard and Carroll counties, made the surprise announcement to his 11 GOP colleagues at a meeting Tuesday morning.

In a letter to Senate Minority Whip Sen. David Brinkley, Kittleman said that after meeting with Republican senators, “it was apparent that the majority of the caucus members do not want a fiscally [sic] conservative who is also a social moderate as the leader of the caucus.  Therefore, while it has been a privilege to lead the Republican Senate Caucus for the past two years, I feel it would not be in the best interest of the caucus for me to continue as their leader.”

Two weeks ago, Kittleman announced he would sponsor a bill sanctioning civil unions for heterosexuals and same-sex couples, a move unpopular with many socially conservative Republicans. Kittleman said there were other issues on which he disagreed with his fellow Republicans.

Kittleman said no one had asked him to resign, and that he could have stayed on as leader. Brinkley agreed with that assessment.

Brinkley said he would be willing to serve again as minority leader. “If they want me to, I’ll do it,” Brinkley said.

–Len Lazarick