Stein promises apology after calling GOP senator a 'narrow-minded nimrod'

lblackford@herald-leader.comDecember 10, 2012 

Sen. Kathy Stein at a rally to oppose the redistricting that will move Stein's state senate seat out of Lexington at Courthouse Plaza in Lexington, Ky., Sunday, January 22, 2012. Photo by Matt Goins 13362

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State Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, said she will apologize to one of her colleagues after calling him a "narrow-minded nimrod" on Facebook over the weekend.

"I thought it was private," Stein said Monday about her comment, which she made on an old blog post about Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, on the liberal Hillbilly Report blog. The blog uses a commenting system powered by Facebook, which means the comment also appeared on Stein's Facebook page.

"This narrow-minded nimrod is now the Chair of the Senate Education Committee — Lord help us," she wrote.

The blog post included a campaign handout for Wilson that featured a prominent typo. It touted Wilson as "firmly standing for conversative values, vision, faith and integrity."

Stein's apology might not cut any ice with incoming Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.

"I just found it very interesting that everybody is attempting to try to have a new tone and discourse different from what it has been in past, and she's made a really inappropriate comment," Stivers said Monday. "Being respectful and conciliatory toward other people is something she always complained about, but apparently she has two different yardsticks by which she measures conduct by."

Stein is one of the most outspoken and liberal members of the Senate, and sparred frequently with former President David Williams, who left the Senate this fall to accept a judicial appointment by Gov. Steve Beshear.

Earlier this year, the Republican-led Senate tried to move Stein's Senate district from central Lexington to northeastern Kentucky as part of a broader redistricting plan. Stein was among those who challenged the legality of the plan, which the Kentucky Supreme Court ultimately declared unconstitutional.

Stivers said he and Williams have disagreed over the years on how to interact with Stein. Williams sought to limit her speech on the Senate floor because he thought she would say inappropriate things, while Stivers believed she should be allowed to speak, he said.

"From a political standpoint, I think it always helped" Republicans when Stein spoke up, Stivers said.

Wilson said Monday he was excited about his new position as chairman of the education committee, but "saddened that Stein will start off with negative discourse like she did."

"It kind of shocked me that she came out with that," he said.

Wilson was elected to the Senate in 2011. Stivers said he was chosen as education chairman based on recommendations from past chairmen and committee members, such as Vernie McGaha and Ken Winters.

Wilson said he thought the committee's work would focus on teacher evaluations, the new statewide testing system and discussion of more performance-based funding for state universities.

Wilson, manager of a Christian radio station in Bowling Green, said he looked forward to working with House Education Committee chairman Carl Rollins, D-Midway, and education professionals.

He was part of a group of Republican lawmakers who had concerns earlier this year that evolution was being taught as a fact, not a theory, in new statewide standards, but he said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday had allayed his fears.

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359.Twitter: @lbblackford.

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