FRANKFORT — As he filed Monday to run for governor, Louisville businessman Hal Heiner whispered to his running mate, KC Crosbie of Lexington, "it will be a great four months."
That's how much time is left for Heiner and Crosbie to try to secure the Republican nomination for the state's highest elective offices. The primary election is May 19.
Heiner, a former member of the Louisville Metro Council who lost a bid for mayor of the state's largest city in 2010, and Crosbie, a former member of the Urban County Council in Fayette County, are the third GOP team to file for governor and lieutenant governor.
The other two are Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and his running mate, state Sen. Christian McDaniel of Northern Kentucky, and former Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott of Pikeville, with former Menifee County Sheriff Rodney Coffey.
Attorney General Jack Conway, with his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, is the only major Democrat so far to file. The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Heiner held a brief news conference Monday outside the Capitol before filing, telling reporters and a group of supporters that he doesn't mind if other candidates enter the race.
"I encourage anyone with ideas to get into the race," Heiner said, adding that he already has criss-crossed the state about 50 times in his campaign's recreational vehicle.
Heiner pledged to be a governor for all people and quickly dismissed the suggestion that the primary race would be an urban-versus-rural battle between Comer and him.
He also claimed to be the "outsider" in the race.
"Kentuckians are tired of the grip the politicians and insiders have on Frankfort," Heiner said. "It's time to elect an outsider who will create jobs, give parents choices in education and bring transparency and common sense to Frankfort."
Signing Heiner's filing papers were Lexington businesswoman Mira Ball, former Southeast Christian Church senior minister Bob Russell of Louisville, former state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington of Fort Wright, and Laurel Circuit Court Clerk Roger Schott of London.
In the group of supporters at the Capitol with Heiner and Crosbie were Larry Cox, former state director of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a former staffer for Comer; former state GOP chairman Bob Gable; the Rev. Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort; and retired Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Pat Day.
Asked why he was backing Heiner, Cox said he wanted to back someone who can govern.
Gable called Heiner "wonderful" and put no credence in a commonly held opinion that it's difficult for any candidate from Louisville to become governor.
York said he likes Heiner because "he would run Kentucky like a businessman and he's right on conservative, pro-life issues."
Mike Grugin of Frankfort witnessed Heiner's filing in the secretary of state's office and said he hoped he could bring Heiner luck.
"I was here for the filing of Louie Nunn when I was 16 and also for the filing of Ernie Fletcher," Grugin said. "I hope Heiner turns out like them."
Fletcher and Nunn were Kentucky's last two Republican governors.