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Republican gubernatorial candidate Hal Heiner

Ahead of the 2015 Kentucky governor’s race, Republican Hal Heiner is keeping up with a mission to support state legislative candidates this year.

Heiner announced Friday that his political action committee, New Direction Kentucky, has raised over $250,000 toward helping the GOP win a majority in the state House.

The PAC was created in January with a number of prominent business leaders among its ranks. It showed how serious Heiner, a former Louisville mayoral candidate, was about preparing to run for governor and establishing a GOP majority to back him up if he wins.

Among New Direction’s biggest donors are heavy-hitters such as Humana founder David Jones Sr. of Louisville, who gave $50,000, according to the filing report.

Other hefty contributors include First Southern National Bank President Jess Correll of Stanford, Ky., and his father Ward Correll, who gave $50,000; John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, who donated $25,000; and former Greater Louisville Inc. President Doug Cobb, who gave $10,000, the report shows.

Heiner told Insider Louisville it’s critical for the general assembly to have a competitive economic agenda going into the 2015 gubernatorial contest.

“I know for Kentucky to move ahead and to compete with Indiana and Tennessee we need new leadership in the House, and a platform that includes tax reform, creating jobs, and cutting regulations in ways that are competitive for states around us,” he said. “It’s a two-step process in my view of first, new leadership in the House, and secondly, a businessperson as governor, and I’m committed to that.”

Democrats hold a 54-46 seat majority in the Kentucky House and have held it for the past 90 years, but Republicans believe they are poised to retake the lower chamber.

The Heiner campaign also points out this announcement keeps up with his pledge not to hold any organized fundraisers until after this year’s fall elections.

Opponents peppered Heiner with criticism for entering the governor’s race in March, believing it would take away needed campaign cash for House contenders.

Heiner poured $4 million of his personal money into the contest this past quarter after giving his campaign $200,000 in the first three months of the year.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who jumped into the GOP primary in August, trashed the personal loan as a sign of Heiner trying to buy the race.

“I believe with all my heart that you cannot buy a race for governor,” Comer told the Lexington Herald-Leader in July. “You need grass-roots support, and I do not see that support for Hal Heiner as I travel around the state.”

Since entering the Kentucky governor’s race, Comer has reportedly held a number of fundraisers across the state. In his first event early last month, Comer told reporters he hauled in at least $250,000 toward his bid.

Comer’s campaign did not respond to Insider Louisville’s request to comment for this story.

Thus far, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is the lone Democratic candidate in the race and raised just over $750,000 from two events, campaign finance records show.

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