LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- After contemplating a gubernatorial run for seven months, Louisville real estate developer Hal Heiner made it official on Tuesday with announcements in Lexington, Hazard and Louisville.
"Kentucky is at a crossroads and we are in desperate need of strong leadership and innovative thinking," Heiner said to supporters in Lexington, the hometown of his running mate, former Urban Councilmember K.C. Crosbie.
Largely unknown outside Jefferson County, Heiner, a former Metro Councilman, mayoral candidate and charter schools advocate has a lot of introductions to make, but he has a lot of time. The GOP primary is 14 months away.
"My entire life has been driven by deep convictions," Heiner said. "When I see something that isn't right, I feel compelled to do something about it."
And what's not right - Heiner says - is the commonwealth consistently next to last in national economic ratings. He said it's time to put "KentuckyFirst" by copying pro-growth legislation of Republican legislatures and governors in states like Indiana and Tennessee.
"Too many in Frankfort have put themselves first, defending the status quo, holding us back, while completely ignoring the best interests of the state we love," Heiner said.
Heiner made the announcement at Star Manufacturing in Lexington. Its workers stayed on the job behind him as Heiner spoke. The metal stamping plant once made typewriter parts and is now a supplier to Toyota. Heiner said Kentucky needs a chief executive like him to lead its transition.
"Someone who has competed in the global economy and has a track record of success," Heiner said.
Crosbie, who holds posts with both the Republican National Committee and Kentucky Republican Party, blamed Democrats for
"The Democrat politicians who control Frankfort now and those aspiring to replace them are the same insiders who have had a stranglehold over change for decades," Crosbie said.
Allies of presumed Republican candidate James Comer, Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner, are raising questions about Crosbie, saying she should resign her post with the Kentucky Republican Party as she campaigns in this race. Crosbie told WHAS11 she does not plan any such move.
As for questions about lobbying work performed by Crosbie's husband for gambling interests, Heiner says such "politics of old" are what have held Kentucky back.
"That's why we end up with 55% of our children that are either dropping out or are not prepared for college or career, because we're focused on all of this underworld political activity and people are focused on their next races," Heiner said.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS) -- Republican Hal Heiner says he wants to use his business experience to improve Kentucky's economy as the state's next governor.
The former Louisville councilman entered next year's governor's race at a campaign kickoff event Tuesday in Lexington.
Heiner, an engineer and developer, has recruited former Lexington-Fayette County councilwoman KC Crosbie as his running mate.
Heiner says Kentucky needs leadership and innovation. He says his "Kentucky First" campaign theme stresses his goal of improving the state's performance in job and personal income growth.
The 2015 Republican primary is about 14 months away.
Another potential Republican candidate is state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
Comer says he's in a strong position should he enter the race. For now, he says he's focused on helping Republicans running for office this year.