Politics & Government

Stein supporters rally to protest redistricting of her state Senate seat

State Sen. Kathy Stein spoke Sunday at a rally of her supporters protesting the General Assembly's recent redistricting that moved her district out of Lexington.
State Sen. Kathy Stein spoke Sunday at a rally of her supporters protesting the General Assembly's recent redistricting that moved her district out of Lexington. ©2012 Herald-Leader

More than 125 friends and supporters of Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein gathered in downtown Lexington on Sunday to protest the moving of her district from Lexington to northeastern Kentucky.

Included in the rally at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza was Democratic state Sen. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson, who now represents the core of Kentucky's second-largest city.

Stein and Ridley said the controversial redistricting bill that Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law Friday, which took effect immediately, disenfranchised the voters in the districts from which they were elected.

House Bill 1, which redrew boundaries for state Senate and House districts to conform to population changes in the U.S. Census, moved Stein's 13th District to northeastern Kentucky and made her old district the 4th.

Ridley represents the 4th District. Only odd-numbered Senate districts are up for election this year, and Stein has said she will not move to the new 13th District.

Stein, a lawyer who was elected to the House in 1997 and to the Senate in 2009, said at the rally that she expects legal action against the redistricting measure. Several House Republicans whose districts also were changed dramatically by the redistricting have indicated they might take legal action as early as this week.

State Rep. Kelly Flood, a Democrat who now holds Stein's old House seat, participated in the rally and said some lawmakers also are looking at introducing legislation to "redo the redistricting."

Flood noted that the last bill passed during a legislative session and signed into law by the governor takes precedence.

Participants at Sunday's so-called "Rally Against Insane Redistricting" primarily blamed Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, and Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, for Stein's predicament.

"Williams/Thayer Political Thugs" read one sign.

Williams and Thayer have said the reconfiguration of Kentucky's 38 Senate districts met constitutional requirements.

Debra Hensley, a former Urban County Council member, said she was upset that Beshear signed the bill.

Beshear said Friday he didn't like the bill but signed it because a Jan. 31 deadline for legislative candidates to file to run is looming.

Stein's husband, Alan Stein, told the crowd that all three Democratic women in the state Senate were adversely affected by redistricting as was the only Jewish member of the legislature, his wife.

Kathy Stein said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and pledged to work with Ridley in representing the people of Lexington.

Ridley said he supported Stein and would do all he could for the people in his Lexington district.

He noted that he now represents his daughter, Margaret Ridley, who lives in the Lexington district.

Jerry Moody, another resident of the Lexington district from which Stein was elected, said her supporters planned to go to Frankfort on Tuesday to protest "this perversion."

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