Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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July 7, 2014

Heiner loans $4M to his own campaign

FRANKFORT — Republican Hal Heiner loaned $4 million to his campaign for governor during the second quarter of this year, according to his campaign manager Joe Burgan.

Burgan said Heiner has raised $4,380,770 year-to-date and has $3.9 million cash on hand. Heiner, a wealthy Louisville developer and former Metro Council member, also contributed $200,000 to his campaign during the first quarter.

Burgan said Heiner has agreed not to host fundraising events until after the November elections “and he will see that commitment through” in order not to compete with fundraising efforts by Republican state House candidates and the U.S. Senate campaign of Mitch McConnell.

Heiner is the only announced Republican candidate for governor next year, but it nearly everyone expects Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer to enter the race.

Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway is the only announced Democrat in the race. He also hadn’t filed his campaign report Monday afternoon with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Candidates had until midnight Monday to file.

But Conway is expected to show he’s raised a substantial amount of money in his only quarter of fundraising, perhaps as much as $750,000. He’s also picked up endorsements from key Democrats like former state Auditor Crit Luallen, U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth and former Governor and U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford.

Both Heiner and Conway appear to be trying to build up sufficient funds to make challengers think twice before challenging them. Other Democrats rumored to be considering a race include Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and former U.S. Congressman Ben Chandler who lost the 2003 governor’s race to Republican Ernie Fletcher.

On the Republican side, former U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Cathy Bailey of Louisville says she’s thinking about running, too.

Comer originally said he wanted to wait until after the November elections to announce any decision but said this week he’ll like “announce my intentions” at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic on Aug. 2 in western Kentucky.

Gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky can’t begin raising and spending money until they form a slate with a running mate for lieutenant governor. That gives Heiner and Conway a head start with the possibility of accumulating large enough campaign war chests to frighten off challengers. Already, one Democrat thought to be seriously considering a race, Auditor Adam Edelen, has announced he won’t run for governor.

But Comer didn’t sound scared off by Heiner’s numbers Monday.

“He’s only raised around $100,000,” Comer said when told what Heiner is reporting. “It looks like to me, the only person invested in Hal Heiner is Hal Heiner.”

Comer said he still plans to announce his intentions at Fancy Farm but he said he’s received encouragement from Republican House candidates who say they will have completed most of their fundraising 60 days before the election. He said he’ll have plenty of time to raise money if he decides to get in.

“I do not think you can buy the governor’s office,” Comer said.

Burgan responded to Comer’s comments by saying Comer continues “to attack his fellow Republicans before deciding whether to enter the race,” calling Comer a career politician. Heiner has characterized himself as an “outsider” in the race.

“Jamie started running for office in his 20s and has not stopped since, so I guess his response is what we should have expected,” Burgan said.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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