Former Louisville mayoral candidate Hal Heiner is launching a new group aimed at helping Kentucky Republicans win a majority in the state House.
The political organization is called New Direction Kentucky, and as an independent expenditure it will be able to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money to aid GOP candidates running this year.
Democrats are clinging to a 54-46 majority in the lower chamber, and many observers believe 2014 could be the year Republicans take over.
Heiner has founded political action committees before aimed at education reform. He says many of those proposals and other issues have languished under Democratic control, and a change is necessary to improve the state’s economy.
“For the past three years I’ve been involved in education reforms. The Kentucky House year after year has refused to entertain real reform in this state, and that’s certainly an area I’ve got a strawberry on the side of my head from beating against a brick wall while 40 other states around the country are considering education reform,” he told WFPL.
“A second area is attracting the best jobs. Kentucky is no longer competitive as companies look at Kentucky they see a state that is struggling with debt, true pension reform and a tax income structure that is out of touch with the rest of the states in the Midwest.”
The political action group’s steering committee includes some prominent figures, namely Humana founder David Jones Sr., Louisville businessman Doug Cobb and former Jefferson County GOP Chairman Bill Stone.
Larry Cox, a former state director for U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, is also among the group’s initial members.
Heiner is considered a possible candidate for Kentucky governor in 2015, and has been publicly weighing his options since last August. This latest political venture into state politics is seen by many as another sign the Louisville Republican is running.
“The two are not connected, but I will tell you as I’ve talked with people I have very deep convictions about what needs to change in Kentucky,” says Heiner. “We need a legislature that’s willing to take on tough issues and no just keeping kicking the can down the road session after session with almost nothing being accomplished and the families in Kentucky hurting.”
Tuesday was the filing deadline for candidates, and the GOP has challengers running in 30 Democratic-controlled districts. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found on a generic ballot voters favor Republicans taking control of the General Assembly this year and Heiner’s group could play an integral role.
But Republicans will also have to defend their seats, such state Rep. Kevin Bratcher’s district in Louisville, which is being challenged by former Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Stengel.
Heiner is expected to announce his plans for the 2015 governor’s race at the end of March.