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GOP gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner gives his campaign $200,000

Hal Heiner, a former Louisville Metro councilman, announced Tuesday that he has entered the race for the Republican nomination for Kentucky governor. Heiner announced his candidacy at Star Manufacturing in Lexington. PHOTO BY PABLO ALCALA | STAFF

By Sam Youngman

Former Louisville Metro councilman Hal Heiner, the only announced candidate in the 2015 governor’s race, gave his campaign $200,000 of his own money in the first fundraising quarter of 2014.

After officially announcing his run at the beginning of March with Lexingtonian KC Crosbie as his running mate, Heiner raised just more than $86,000 in the first fundraising quarter.

After giving his campaign $200,000, Heiner started the second quarter with a little more than $191,000 in cash on hand.

“Hal and KC are thrilled with the level of support the campaign has received in the first few weeks since announcing their intentions,” campaign manager Joe Burgan said in a statement. “In that time, the candidates have traveled all across Kentucky beginning the process of building a statewide network of support.”

Burgan said the campaign is in a “strong financial position” and will have the funds needed “to communicate their positive message for Kentucky’s future.”

A Republican poll released just before Heiner got in the race suggested Heiner, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Louisville in 2010, has his work cut out for him.

The poll, conducted Feb. 26 and 27 by Robert Blizzard at Public Opinion Strategies, found Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is considering a bid for governor, leading Heiner 42 percent to 14 percent among 400 Republican primary voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Andy Beshear reports $1.1M and Wendell Ford endorsement for attorney general’s race


FRANKFORT — Democrat Andy Beshear, the son of Gov. Steve Beshear, announced Monday that he has raised more than $1.1 million and has picked up the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Wendell Ford for his campaign for Kentucky attorney general in 2015.

Beshear, a Louisville attorney, said in a release that his campaign raised $880,000 in the first three months of this year.

“I have spent the past few months traveling the state, meeting Kentuckians, and listening to their concerns about the future of our great commonwealth,” said Beshear. “Britainy (his wife) and I are grateful for the incredible outpouring of support we have seen from friends and strangers alike who share our vision of safe, healthy and prosperous communities for all Kentuckians.”

The candidate also said he is “greatly humbled by endorsement of a true fighter for all Kentucky families – Sen. Ford. I deeply value his advice and wisdom, and thank him for his support.”

Ford, in a statement, said, “I encouraged Andy to enter this race early and raise the necessary funds. I am excited about his progress and believe he will make a great attorney general. He has my full support.”

Gov. Beshear said first lady Jane Beshear and he are “very supportive of Andy’s efforts to become the next attorney general and we congratulate him on a very successful fund-raising quarter.”

The governor also said he was “thrilled that our good friend, Sen. Wendell Ford, came out and publicly endorsed Andy in his race. I think that will bode well for the results.”

–Jack Brammer

Beshear sidesteps picking UK-U of L winner in NCAA tourney

Gov. Steve Beshear

By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear gave a politically safe answer Monday when asked who will win Friday night’s much-anticipated NCAA tournament game in Indianapolis between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

“I’m confident that a Kentucky team will win,” said Beshear, who holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from UK.

Beshear said he has watched the teams’ earlier games on TV and is excited that “Kentucky is once again at the epicenter of men’s college basketball.”

He noted that U of L won the national championship last year and UK the previous year.

“I think the team that wins Friday night will have a heck of a shot in winning the whole thing. In having a three-peat of Kentucky teams will be historic. And I’m glad that I will be the governor who will be serving.”

The Democratic governor said he does not yet know if he will be able to attend the game.

He said he may have to stay in Frankfort if the state House and Senate are negotiating compromises on weighty bills, such as the state budget and road plan.

If Beshear goes to Indianapolis, will he wear U of L red or UK blue?

“When you put red and blue together, what do you get?” he asked. “I think I’ve got a purple shirt.”

Senate approves bill giving top lawmakers power to defend state laws in court

Attorney General Jack ConwayBy Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – With no discussion, the Senate approved a bill Monday that would allow the Senate president or House speaker to intervene in a court case when the attorney general fails to defend a state law or part of the Kentucky Constitution.

The vote on Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, was 31-6, with one Democrat passing. Six other Democrats cast the “no” votes.

Gregory said the bill was filed in part due to Attorney General Jack Conway’s recent decision not to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries. Gov. Steve Beshear is appealing the ruling using outside attorneys. He and Conway are Democrats.

SB 221 also would allow the top two legislative leaders to intervene in court cases in which attorneys general submit an order to the court giving them sole discretion to spend funding from a legal settlement.

That provision stems from Conway’s decision earlier this year to use more than $32 million collected from lawsuit settlements with two drug companies to expand substance abuse treatment in Kentucky and not put the money in the state’s General Fund, which pays for most state programs.

Conway, who is frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, has dismissed SB 221 as unconstitutional.

Senate panel approves cyber-security bill pushed by Edelen

State Auditor Adam EdelenBy Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – A Senate committee Monday night unanimously approved a cyber-security bill that Auditor Adam Edelen had complained was being blocked in the Senate because of political reasons.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee changed House Bill 5 before approving it and sending it to the full Senate. Chairman Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, told reporters that the amended bill had the support of Edelen.

Edelen, frequently mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2015, said in an email that he appreciated Bowen “clearing the logjam on House Bill 5 and moving this important cyber-security bill forward.”

House Bill 5 would require most state and local government agencies to notify citizens of any electronic breaches of personal information. Almost 30 groups have endorsed the bill, including AARP of Kentucky, the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Bowen said the biggest change the Senate committee made in its 21-page substitute to the House bill was giving agencies 72 hours to notify the state police commissioner, auditor and attorney general of a security breach. The original bill gave agencies 24 hours.

The measure would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Earlier this month, Edelen held a news conference to say he was “deeply frustrated” that the Republican-controlled Senate was not acting on his legislation, which garnered nearly unanimous support in the Democratic-led House.

He particularly was upset with Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who had dubbed the measure “the Adam Edelen for governor bill.”

Thayer at the time said the bill would rise or fall on its own merits. He also said politics had nothing to do with the Senate’s handling of the bill.

Thayer, who is on the committee that unanimously approved it Monday, was eager to put the measure on the “consent calendar” when it is considered in the full Senate. A bill on the consent calendar means it can be acted upon at the same time with other measures without debate.

Republican lieutenant governor candidate KC Crosbie resigns from state GOP post

KC CrosbieBy Sam Youngman

Lexingtonian KC Crosbie resigned Tuesday as finance chairwoman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, just more than a week after she was announced as Louisville businessman Hal Heiner’s running mate in the 2015 race for governor and lieutenant governor.

Crosbie will be replaced by state Rep. David Osborne.

In a statement released by Heiner’s campaign, Crosbie said her new role as a candidate meant it was time to “pass along these duties.”

“I have appreciated the opportunity to serve the RPK over the past two years,” Crosbie said. “Given my recent decision to run on the ticket with Hal Heiner as his lieutenant governor and my current responsibilities as RNC National Committee Woman, I believe that it is the right time for me and our Party to pass along these duties to someone as qualified and committed as Representative Osborne.”

Heiner’s announcement of Crosbie as his running mate left allies of likely gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer leery that one of their would-be rivals was still a fixture at the state party.

The day before Heiner’s announcement, Republican House Floor Leader Jeff Hoover told the Herald-Leader that Crosbie should resign from the post.

Comer said Wednesday he was happy the party had taken steps to make sure that winning control of the state House for the first time since 1921 was the Kentucky GOP’s undisputed priority.

“This situation put the party in a really tough spot, and I’m excited to see that my good friend, Rep. David Osborne, is stepping in to steady the ship and make sure that the focus stays on flipping the House,” Comer said.

Steve Robertson, chairman of the state party, said he was grateful to Crosbie for her time raising funds “to further our party’s administrative, state legislative and federal election goals.”

“She has dedicated an incredible amount of time to this volunteer position, and I am grateful for her service,” Robertson said.

Crosbie also is one of the state’s three members of the Republican National Committee, and Heiner campaign manager Joe Burgan said on the day of the announcement that she has no intention of resigning that post.

Osborne has contributed heavily to the state party and is regarded as a warrior for state Republicans in their effort to retake the House.

“David Osborne is someone who has worked for years to raise money for the party, and has been focused on creating the first Republican majority in the State House in nearly a century,” Robertson said. “Through David’s leadership as finance chair, our party will sharpen its focus on flipping the state House, growing our majority in the state Senate, and ensuring Kentucky continues to be represented by two Republican United States senators.”

Osborne said in a statement that he was “honored to assume this important position of leadership in the Republican Party of Kentucky and plan to work diligently to help our party reach its goals.”

“We have an incredible opportunity to flip the house to Republican control this year, and I am eager to help our party make history and take back the majority for the first time in almost a century,” Osborne said.

Bill altering funding rules for gubernatorial candidates clears House panel

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg By Jack Brammer

FRANKFORT – House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s bill aimed at allowing candidates running for governor and other state constitutional offices to compete on a more level financial playing field won bipartisan support Tuesday in a state House committee.

Under House Bill 366, once a candidate for governor or his or her running mate donates $1 million or more to their own campaign committee, all other candidates would be able to accept donations of $2,500 per individual, instead of the current $1,000 limit.

The changes would apply to primary and general elections. However, if a self-funding candidate fails to advance out of a primary election, the $1,000 donation cap would be reapplied through the remainder of the general election.

Candidates for Kentucky’s other statewide constitutional offices – Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor of Public Accounts, State Treasurer and Commissioner of Agriculture – would all have to follow similar procedures if a candidate for these offices chooses to self-fund his or her campaign.

However, for these offices, the contribution limit would increase once a candidate or his immediate family donates $500,000 to the campaign.

Stumbo told the committee that Illinois has had such a system for about 10 years.

He later told reporters that his bill was not directed at any particular candidate and would not favor him if he should decide to run for governor in 2015. The only candidate who has formally announced a gubernatorial campaign so far is Hal Heiner, a Republican businessman and multimillionaire from Louisville.

The House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee gave unanimous approval to the bill, which now goes to the full House for its consideration.

The House committee also approved Tuesday a constitutional amendment that would establish an independent commission to set salaries for state legislators and state constitutional officers. The commission’s work could be subject to a public referendum.

House Bill 182 is sponsored by Rep. Dwight Butler, R-Harned.

Stumbo said he was not familiar enough with the proposal to comment on its prospects in the House.

Promising ‘big things,’ Adam Edelen is focused on Governor’s Mansion

State Auditor Adam EdelenBy Sam Youngman

After the GPS failed, state Auditor Adam Edelen took over, giving directions through downtown Paris to the young staffer driving, and he arrived to speak at the Rotary Club meeting about 20 minutes early.

Among the first there, he chatted up two of the country club officials and an employee setting up lunch as his staff eyed the fried fish, grilled cheese sandwiches and chili that was coming.

“We don’t eat much,” Edelen said, grinning.

With Edelen, who has time?

At 39, he is considering calendar dates near the first Saturday in May to announce that he is running for governor.

“My guess is the field will be pretty well established this spring, sometime either before or right after Derby,” Edelen said. “And I wouldn’t anticipate, if I were to go, I wouldn’t anticipate being a late entrant.”

To his critics, being late has never been a problem for Edelen, a young man in a hurry who is guided by ambition that they say will be his undoing.

Crit Luallen says ‘there’s plenty of time’ to announce run for governor

Auditor of Public Accounts Crit LuallenBy Sam Youngman

LOUISVILLE — Former State Auditor Crit Luallen said Saturday night there is no rush for her to make an announcement about running for governor, adding that no Democrats should announce right now to keep the focus on Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

Luallen said that likely Democratic Senate nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes is at a “critical time” in her fundraising efforts and “it would be inappropriate for any of us to jump in her way at this point.”

“There’s plenty of time,” she told reporters before the start of a dinner to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Emerge Kentucky, a group that trains women Democratic candidates.

In a room packed with Democratic officials, including Attorney General Jack Conway and State Auditor Adam Edelen, Luallen said she has not made a final decision on whether to run and there isn’t “any line drawn in the sand about a date certain when I have to make a decision.”

“There’s no magic date there,” she said. “I just think there’s no need to jump right now.”

Whether Luallen runs has been the dominant early storyline in the race for the 2015 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, leaving her would-be opponents and friends asking daily what the former state auditor is thinking.

GOP poll shows Comer with big early lead over Heiner in 2015 race for governor

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer By Sam Youngman

A Republican polling memo obtained by the Herald-Leader shows Agriculture Commissioner James Comer with a commanding early lead over former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner in the 2015 gubernatorial primary.

While neither man has announced a run for governor, both have indicated they’re likely to do so.

The poll, conducted by Robert Blizzard at Public Opinion Strategies, found Comer leading Heiner 42 percent to 14 percent among 400 Republican primary voters between Feb. 26-27. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Blizzard and Public Opinion Strategies have done polling for a number of Kentucky Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and state Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer.

Comer and other would-be candidates are prohibited from polling before officially launching a campaign, but Blizzard said in an email that “the poll was not paid for by any candidate, prospective candidate or political action committee.”