- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner is entering next year’s race for governor and is teaming with another urban Republican as his running mate, former state GOP chairman Bob Gable said Monday.

Heiner will introduce former Lexington-Fayette County councilwoman KC Crosbie as his running mate at their campaign kickoff event Tuesday in Lexington, Gable said.

“I believe he will be the nominee, and I think he will be a great credit to Kentucky,” Gable said.

He said Heiner’s selection of Crosbie is “ingenious,” calling her an excellent campaigner.

Crosbie ran for state treasurer in 2011, narrowly losing to Democratic incumbent Todd Hollenbach in a year when Democrats dominated most statewide races.

Heiner is fashioning a ticket with strong ties to the state’s two largest cities. Gable said that there are large numbers of Republican voters in both urban areas and predicted they will do well in other parts of the state as well.

The 2015 GOP primary is about 14 months away.

Heiner, a wealthy businessman, brings plenty of financial heft into what’s looming as a wide open race for governor next year.

Democrat Steve Beshear is in the middle of his second term as governor. Governors are limited to two terms in Kentucky.

On the Republican side, state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is seriously considering his own run for governor. Another potential candidate is Louisville businesswoman Cathy Bailey. Potential Democratic candidates include Attorney General Jack Conway, state Auditor Adam Edelen, former Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and former Auditor Crit Luallen.

Heiner’s early entry into the race comes when Republicans are focused on one of the nation’s most hotly contested U.S. Senate races this year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a challenge from fellow Republican Matt Bevin, with Democratic front-runner Alison Lundergan Grimes awaiting the winner. Kentucky Republicans also are making a strong push to win control of the state House this November.

Heiner, 62, served two terms on the Louisville Metro Council and lost a hard-fought campaign for mayor of Louisville in 2010.

“He’s clearly shown in the mayor’s race what he can do in a highly Democratic environment,” Gable said.

Heiner, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville, became a partner in a civil engineering firm and later started a development company.

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