LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The launch of Hal Heiner's 2015 gubernatorial campaign on Tuesday had to compete for attention with drama unfolding at Kentucky's State Capitol.
Governor Steve Beshear announced he would hire an outside attorney to appeal a federal judge's order that Kentucky recognize same-sex unions. Beshear made the move after Attorney General Jack Conway decided not to appeal the order.
As a member of the Louisville Metro Council, Heiner voted against the "Fairness Ordinance" which extended protections against discrimination due to someone's sexual orientation. In 2004, Heiner and his wife, Sheila, contributed $20,000 to a group advocating a constitutional amendment which effectively bans same-sex marriage in Kentucky.
After his campaign announcement in Louisville, WHAS11 asked Heiner if he would have made the same decision as Beshear.
"This campaign is not focused on the issues that divide us," Heiner replied. "This campaign is focused on growing jobs in Kentucky. It's focused on major education reforms that help the kids that are not well-served."
Heiner paused, then reiterated his personal beliefs on gay marriage.
"I do believe in the traditional definition of marriage," Heiner said, "but the campaign is focused on jobs and opportunity and education for Kentucky."
when Heiner narrowly lost the Louisville mayor's race four years ago, he left the impression he wouldn't run for office again. So what changed?
"I'm a person of deep conviction," Heiner said. "so, after finishing up the mayoral race, as part of that race, I got a really good understanding of education in Kentucky, especially for the children that are not well-served by mainline education. You see schools with 36, 48 percent graduation rates and we know we can do better."
Heiner's running mate is former Lexington Councilwoman K.C. Crosbie who also holds positions with both the national and Kentucky Republican parties.
Despite calls by some Republicans, including potential primary rival James Comer, that Crosbie resign from those positions as she campaigns for lieutenant governor, Crosbie told WHAS11 she does not intend to resign from either post.
Crosbie was also asked about Comer's contention in a Lexington Herald-Leader interview that Heiner will have to explain "inconsistencies" between Heiner's anti-gambling stance and lobbying work performed for gambling interests by Crosbie's husband, Scott.
"It basically suggests in some way that because I am married to somebody who has a business that I can't make my own decisions," Crosbie responded. "I mean, as a woman, we should be at a point in time where we can run for political office and not be dependent on our husbands and their views."