Hal Heiner

After saying he would not comment on allegations that James Comer abused his college girlfriend, Republican candidate for governor Hal Heiner has a new TV ad that criticizes Comer and Matt Bevin for not protecting the woman.

The 30 second ad says Comer and fellow candidate Matt Bevin have accused Marilyn Thomas and her friends of lying and taking payoffs for their stories. Heiner urges voters to reject this kind of politics and elect someone with "Christian values."

The ad comes after a nonprofit group supporting Comer paid for a TV ad accusing Heiner of "gutter politics" for promoting the abuse allegations. Heiner apologized to Comer's campaign after the Lexington Herald Leader published emails showing Heiner's campaign had communicated with a blogger that has pushed the allegations for months in social media.

Candidates are escalating their attacks now that the election is days away and public polls show a three way tie.

Alix Mattingly, WFPL

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer tag-teamed attacks against former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner on Wednesday during a debate of Republican gubernatorial candidates.

The debate hosted, by the radio program Kentucky Sports Radio, came less than two weeks before the May 19 primary and days after The Courier-Journal published an accusation of domestic abuse against Comer.

The candidates accused Heiner of surrounding himself with operatives who levy attacks against his opponents while Heiner himself avoids personal responsibility.

“Hal Heiner has surrounded himself with the surliest and sorriest group of people who have smeared and assassinated other people in this race, and he can sit here and tell people that he has said nothing but positive things,” Bevin said during the debate.

The debate proved to be the most heated exchange between the candidates so far. This was in part because moderator Matt Jones—known best for his adamant support of Kentucky Wildcats athletics—pressed candidates on issues surrounding allegations that Comer abused his college girlfriend.

Republican candidates for Kentucky governor say presumptive Democratic nominee Jack Conway isn’t fit to serve because he would not fight a challenge to the state’s same sex marriage ban.

Conway refused to defend the ban last year, saying the law is discriminatory. Gov. Steve Beshear hired outside counsel to defend the law.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, one of four Republicans seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination, said not wanting to defend a law shouldn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter if you agree with the constitution or not. When you take that oath to uphold the constitution, you represent the people of Kentucky,” Comer said.

Louisville businessman and Republican frontrunner Hal Heiner said that Conway should have been required to defend the constitutional amendment.

Hal Heiner campaign

Hal Heiner leads other Republican candidates for this year’s gubernatorial election, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

The former Louisville Metro Council member leads with 28 percent of the vote in a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT. The poll surveyed 1,917 registered voters.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Matt Bevin tied for second with 20 percent of the vote. Bevin unsuccessfully ran last year as a tea party candidate in the Republican Senate primary. He was defeated by now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Heiner not only lead in the polls. According to financial disclosures, Heiner’s campaign is also millions of dollars ahead of the other GOP candidates.

According to his latest disclosure, Heiner has almost $3.5 million in his campaign coffers. So far, Heiner has donated more than $4 million of his own money to his campaign.

Greg Blair, Heiner’s new campaign spokesman,, said money and airtime is not what’s driving these numbers, though.

“I don’t think anyone has worked harder than Hal Heiner to get out and talk to people and listen to people and hear what they are concerned about,” Blair said.

With Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary four months away, candidates are beginning to line up endorsements.

Kentucky’s AFL-CIO chapter officially endorsed Democratic candidate and Attorney General Jack Conway Tuesday. Republican candidate and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer has been endorsed by former Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Another GOP candidate, former Louisville Council Member Hal Heiner, this week aired the first television ad of the 2015 election cycle.

The spot touts Heiner’s experience in private business and says he would fight against federal mandatessuch as Obamacare and the Common Core educational standards.

Former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott is also running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. Secretary of State and former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes says she’s considering several options, including running for governor, attorney general , and a second term as Secretary of State.

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

What’s next for Alison Lundergan Grimes? It’s a question some have been asking since the Secretary of State’s loss Tuesday night to incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell.  A Bluegrass Poll taken a week before the election suggests voter enthusiasm is tepid with regards to Grimes running for Kentucky governor next year.  The poll found 33 percent of respondents wanted her to run.  Fifty percent did not and 17 percent said they weren’t sure.

Attorney General Jack Conway is the only Democrat to enter the race so far.  Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and businessman Hal Heiner have entered the race on the GOP side.

Whitfield Endorses Comer For Governor

Oct 1, 2014
Office of Rep. Whitfield

Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield has endorsed James Comer for governor.

Comer, the Republican state agriculture commissioner, is seeking the party's nomination for governor in 2015. Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner is also seeking the Republican nomination.

In a news release from the Comer campaign, Whitfield said he believes Comer's achievements as agriculture commissioner makes him the candidate with the best chance to take back the governor's office. Democrats have won nine of the last 10 governor's elections.

Whitfield has represented Kentucky's 1st Congressional District since 1994. The district includes the city of Tompkinsville, Comer's home.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and several state lawmakers also have endorsed Comer.

Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democrat in the race. He has endorsements from former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, former state Auditor Crit Luallen and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

Hal Heiner campaign

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner says he isn’t sure whether burning fossil fuels like coal contributes to climate change.

 Heiner spoke to Kentucky Public Radio at the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s country ham breakfast last Thursday, saying that he’s on the fence when it comes to climate science.

“I don’t have a scientific position, on contribution or not, but what I do know is … if we’re going to stay economically competitive in a global marketplace, we have to burn coal,” said Heiner.

Heiner recently attacked his primary opponent, Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, over comments he made last year that the state needs to move “beyond coal.”

A new poll suggests the race to decide Kentucky’s next governor, it’s still very much up for grabs.

Data from a recent Bluegrass poll shows a plurality of Kentucky voters have either “no opinion” or are neutral toward three gubernatorial candidates, including Attorney General Jack Conway; former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner; and Agriculture Secretary James Comer, whom is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend at the Fancy Farm political picnic in West Kentucky.

Notably, the poll suggests Conway is trailing Heiner and Comer among African Americans, with a negative favorability rating of eight points.

The poll surveyed 714 registered voters, and reported a margin of error just under 4 percent.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway is concerned about the influence that a conservative 501(c)(4) group could have on Kentucky’s fall elections and beyond.

Americans for Prosperity was founded in 2004, and was led by David Koch of the billionaire, right-wing Koch brothers fame. The group and its network of undisclosed donors spent $40 million in 2010 to wrest control of the U.S. House from Democrats.

And with the recent announcement that the group has hired a director for its Kentucky chapter, Attorney General Conway says he’s concerned that the network of “dark” campaign money will warp Kentucky politics.

“I don’t think we ought to let in Kentucky state politics happen what’s happened at the federal level," said Conway. " Because people raise money for Senate campaign or House campaigns, and all of a sudden the corporate interests come in in the end and outspend what the individuals raised, and they treat the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives like it’s members are just nothing more than pawns in a larger corporate game.”

Edelen Rules Out 2015 Run for Kentucky Governor

Jun 18, 2014

Citing a need to be with his family, Democratic Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen has declared he won't run for governor next year.

Speculation was rampant that Edelen would enter the contest, but he quelled it with an announcement  Wednesday. 

“My wife and my sons were all gung-ho for me to run, but at the end of the day I made the determination that I’d rather spend the next year-and-a-half coaching little league and catching crooks and running for re-election than I would worrying about my name ID in a governor’s race,” said Edelen

Attorney General Jack Conway is currently the only Democrat seeking the governor's office. 

Edelen says he is withholding any endorsements until more candidates enter the race. 

But he thinks Conway will benefit from greater name recognition among voters. Republican Hal Heiner of Louisville is the only Republican to announce a gubernatorial candidacy so far.

Edelen says he is “absolutely” considering running for governor in the future.

Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture

The list of confirmed 2015 Kentucky candidates for governor grew Tuesday, when Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway announced he was running for the office.

He joins Republican and former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner, who announced earlier this year his gubernatorial bid.

Kentucky political observers will now turn their attention on a handful of other potential candidates for governor.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has said he is strongly considering a run for Governor, but only if Democrats hang on to their majority in the state House.

Stumbo was the running mate for gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lundsford in 2007, a ticket that lost the primary to Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo.

Other potential Democratic 2015 candidates include state Auditor Adam Edelen and former U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler, who is currently executive director of the Kentucky Humanities Council.

Former state Auditor Crit Luallen announced last month that she won’t run for governor.

On the Republican side, the most high-profile would-be candidate appears to be Agriculture Commissioner and Monroe County farmer James Comer.

Democrat Luallen Won't Run For Kentucky Governor in 2015

Apr 24, 2014

Former Kentucky state auditor Crit Luallen says she will not run for governor in 2015.

Luallen has been mentioned as a possible Democratic contender as Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear finishes his second term.

In a written statement, Luallen said Thursday she is passionate about Kentucky's future but decided not to run because it was the best decision for her family.

Luallen's decision could open the door for Attorney General Jack Conway, a Luallen ally, to seek the Democratic nomination. Current state Auditor Adam Edelen is also considering running for governor. Republican Hal Heiner is the only person to officially announce as a candidate.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo has asked Democrats to delay their candidacies until after the November elections, in which Alison Lundergan Grimes is running for U.S. Senate and Democrats are trying to keep control of the state House of Representatives.

Heiner Kicking Off 2015 Kentucky Governor's Race

Mar 4, 2014
Kentucky News Network

A prominent Republican says former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner will kick off his campaign for Governor Tuesday in Lexington, joining with another urban Republican for his running mate.

Former state GOP chairman Bob Gable says Heiner will introduce former Lexington-Fayette County Councilwoman KC Crosbie as his running mate. Crosbie ran for state treasurer in 2011, narrowly losing to Democratic incumbent Todd Hollenbach. Gable said Crosbie is an excellent campaigner and said Heiner's selection of her for the ticket is "ingenious."

Gable says he believes Heiner will be the Republican nominee for Governor and that he showed his vote-getting ability in the 2010 mayoral race in Louisville. Heiner lost a hard fought campaign in that 2010 race and also served two terms on the Louisville Metro Council.

Hal Heiner campaign

A newly-formed Super PAC will target Kentucky House races this fall in an effort to win a GOP majority in that chamber.

New Direction Kentucky is a nonprofit founded by former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, who is rumored to be a GOP contender for next year's governor’s race.

Currently, Democrats retain a narrow majority in the House, with 54 seats to the Republicans’ 46.

New Direction Kentucky spokesman Joe Burgan says the group will not directly give money to campaigns, but will raise funds to purchase ads in contested races come November.

“We will do grassroots work; we will do paid media; we will do earned media. So that’s TV, radio, mail. Working with the press. To really do everything we can to get these candidates across the line," Burgain said.

The group is comprised of business and political luminaries, including Humana founder David Jones.

Burgan did not say how much money the group intends to raise.