Rhetoric in the Kentucky Secretary of State race has crossed a line.
It started when Rep. Jon Yarmuth (D-KY) tweeted on Monday that he’s proud of his "F" rating from the NRA:
I’m so proud of my @NRA rating, I’ll wear it on my chest. I invite my colleagues to join me in wearing our F ratings every day until the GOP finally stands up to the gun lobby and helps us pass common sense gun safety legislation. Find me to get a pin. #MarchForOurLives pic.twitter.com/sOECS54QOK— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) March 19, 2018
The next day, Carl Nett, a Republican candidate for Secretary of State, suggested he could use the button for target practice.
While the tweet has since been deleted, there's a screenshot. There's always a screenshot, you guys.
For those who don’t know, “center mass” is a law enforcement term that means a shot fired to the chest.
The local and state GOP quickly condemned the remarks:
Our politics have grown too divisive over the last 10 years. In regard to the Tweet by Secretary of State candidate Carl Nett this AM, we condemn that tweet, in the strongest of terms, as well as any suggestion of violence against anyone, much less a member of Congress. (1/2)— LouisvilleGOP (@LouisvilleGOP) March 20, 2018
(2/2) This tweet is especially disturbing in light of recent attacks on Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and our own Senator Rand Paul.— LouisvilleGOP (@LouisvilleGOP) March 20, 2018
The Scott County GOP has recently learned of a threatening Tweet from Secretary of State Candidate Carl Nett from this morning. We will not tolerate, in any form, a suggestion or even a hint of violence against anyone!!— Scott County GOP (@ScottCoGOP) March 20, 2018
We will not stand behind a Republican candidate, for any office, that makes threatening statements or suggests violence in any way, shape or form. There is no room for civil discourse for such threats.— Scott County GOP (@ScottCoGOP) March 20, 2018
Many thought that Nett should drop out of the race:
And yet Nett still is your party's candidate. I hope his wrists heal properly after all those minutes of furious slapping you gave them.— Dean Curtis (@dcurtis10) March 22, 2018
So you won’t tolerate it...— King Latifah (@JaredMChoate) March 21, 2018
But you also won’t take ANY action against him?
Unsurprisingly spineless reaction to your party’s advocacy of gun violence.
What stance exactly?— King Latifah (@JaredMChoate) March 21, 2018
They literally tweeted and didn’t do anything?
Party of family values though, right?
Others wondered why a certain other member of the GOP wasn't getting the same kinds of denouncements:
That's great. Now, will you stop standing for liars and men who sexually assault women and brag about it??— Peace Please (@PeacePleaseNow) March 22, 2018
"Except, that is, when our President is threatening people at his rallies, or in his Tweets"— Mark London Williams (@mlondonwmz) March 20, 2018
I applaud your condemnation of this divisiveness & the threatening tweet, Ibut have to point out that the failure of the @GOP to compromise is a big part of why we are at this junction. Gerrymandering, spreading lies as truth, & supporting @realDonaldTrump are dominant causes.— H.R. Christian (@bumbobumbo) March 22, 2018
The leader of your party encouraged violence at his rallies and against his political opponents. Perhaps this incident did not occur in a vacuum.— (((Brian))) (@hifibri71) March 21, 2018
Any comment on that?
After some uproar, Carl Nett issued an apology via Twitter for the deleted post:
To the extent that anyone, including and most especially Congressman Yarmuth or members of his family, felt sincerely threatened or even offended by today’s social media post, I offer my sincere apology to them.— Carl B. Nett (@realCarlNett) March 20, 2018
I recognize that my attempt to be clever was far from clever, particularly in light of politically motivated acts of violence against elected officials – from the shooting of Republican congressman at a softball practice to the blindside attack on our own Senator, Rand Paul.— Carl B. Nett (@realCarlNett) March 20, 2018
I now join the long list of imperfect human beings with “foot-in-mouth” disease. Once again, I apologize to Congressman Yarmuth and his family and ask for their forgiveness.— Carl B. Nett (@realCarlNett) March 20, 2018
But many people were not having it:
Not only that, but you aren’t exactly helping your own cause of “we are responsible gun owners who are capable of owning military-grade weapons” by, erm, joking about using a Congressman as target practice.— 🙄 (@dreamaway223) March 20, 2018
Apologies from you are a bit shallow, and beside the point what you did is a felony offense, and you should have known that. This administration has created an anything goes. By your tweet you have incited hate and violence. Religious values?— Jette Guyette (@MizJette) March 22, 2018
You know words have consequences, sometimes fatal and tragic, and your irresponsible words make you unfit for public office. Your apology is as meaningless as you say your tweet was. Show your contrition for your words with action, withdraw your candidacy.— Stephen Macken (@stevemacken) March 22, 2018
Just. Stop. You said what you meant. You revealed who you are.— SlatsNoNumbers (@dahlfaze) March 22, 2018
Your “apology” feels condescending and insincere. Many of us are imperfect human beings; please don’t drag us along through the mud. The tweet you responded to was an opinion - which I believe we still have the right to express.— Lynn Fitzgerald (@LynLynWi) March 22, 2018