Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steve Stemler-- State Rep's Stock Starbound

Sorry about all that alliteration...Anyway, in Sunday's C-J, Dale Moss had a nice article on Steve-- on his past, present, and prospective future.

"Right choice. Right time." That was Steve Stemler's slogan when he ran last year for state representative. The voters agreed.

They also wonder if it's time for Stemler, 47, to be the right choice for a bigger office. Stemler hears it, as I did at a recent reception the lawmaker held in Jeffersonville for House Speaker Pat Bauer.

"I think he's the next Lee Hamilton," said Clementine "Tiny" Barthold, a retired judge in Stemler's Clark County...

Stemler said he might be interested in doing more, especially now that his two children are older and his leadership role in expanding the firm is settling down. And opportunity often knocks unexpectedly. Stemler could be in the game in the big time, in a short time. [But] He insists he plans nothing specifically beyond doing his best for the 63,000 residents of House District 71.

"I can see how it (a rosy political future) could fall into place for me," Stemler said at his business headquarters a few days before the 2008 legislative session's day of organization. "But as far as plotting and planning, I haven't thought about it. I haven't even finished my first year in the legislature."

As they did Hamilton, their retired former congressman, people seem to like and believe Stemler. "It's his personality or something," said his proud father, Ralph Stemler. "He seems to draw people."...

From what I know about him, I'd say it's character and convictions-- more than his able personality.

I enjoyed many aspects of running for Congress. One pleasure was meeting some fine people and forming modest friendships. Steve was always warm, genuine, knowledgeable, and helpful. We bumped into each other quite a bit on the campaign trail and he asked to meet with me after he'd been in office for awhile. He is far more principled than political, a hard worker and a good thinker-- and Clark Co. is fortunate to have him representing us.

Bauer placed Stemler on the prestigious, powerful Ways and Means Committee right off the bat. Stemler is experienced in business, smart and articulate, Bauer told me. The appointment made sense, as does speculation that Stemler's political ascent just has begun. "If he chooses to take on additional responsibility, he's capable of doing it," Bauer said.

Stemler now chairs a Ways and Means subcommittee overseeing higher education, another cap feather typically awarded to a veteran lawmaker.

This is another sign of Stemler's strength, how his party spotlights him without him marching blindly to its beat. More conservative than liberal, he tests the bounds of political independence when he feels he must...


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