- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Republican Hal Heiner is getting another head start in Kentucky’s 2015 governor’s race by making the campaign’s first TV pitch to voters with an ad portraying him as a political outsider.

Heiner’s campaign said Friday that the 30-second ad for the earliest candidate in the race will air starting Saturday during Belmont Stakes coverage. The race will likely draw a big Kentucky audience as California Chrome tries to win the Triple Crown.

The ad - coming nearly a year ahead of next year’s gubernatorial primary election - shows Heiner toting a bale of hay at his farm near the Jefferson-Shelby county line. Heiner talks of a disconnect between Kentuckians and their state government.

“People from across Kentucky have told me how Frankfort has forgotten them,” Heiner said. “No new ideas, no new jobs.”

Heiner campaign manager Joe Burgan called it a significant ad buy. It will start airing in the Lexington and Bowling Green markets but may spread to other markets in the state, he said.

Heiner is well known in Louisville, the state’s largest city, where he served two terms on the Metro Council and lost a hard-fought campaign for mayor in 2010. He’s been working to build name recognition elsewhere in the state.

Heiner’s campaign sees this as a chance to start spreading its message before the airwaves are saturated with commercials in the state’s high-profile U.S. Senate race, pitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell against Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The early ad also shows that Heiner will wage an unconventional campaign, Burgan said.

“He got in the race early to communicate with voters,” Burgan said. “We don’t think there is a set timeframe for when you are supposed to communicate. We don’t do things in a typical way.”

Heiner, an engineer and developer, announced his candidacy in March, choosing former Lexington-Fayette County councilwoman KC Crosbie as his running mate. Heiner brings considerable personal wealth into the race.

Next year’s gubernatorial race will be wide open. Democrat Steve Beshear is in his second term, his last under term limits.

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