Republican Hal Heiner is once again taking the lead in Kentucky’s 2015 gubernatorial contest by launching the first TV ad in the race.
The 30-second spot features Heiner, an engineer and former Louisville councilman, touting hay at his farm along the Jefferson-Shelby county border.
In the ad, Heiner tells voters state government needs a political outsider who is willing to shake things up and stand up against federal regulators.
"As governor, I’ll fight to create Kentucky jobs," he said. "I’ll protect them from Frankfort politicians and President Obama’s job-killing regulations."
In March, Heiner was the first candidate of either major party to announce his intentions to run for governor next year.
The ad portrays Heiner as a conservative job creator and establishes a narrative before other potential GOP candidates, namely Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, can define him in the primary race.
The ad will begin airing Saturday during the Belmont Stakes horse race, which is expected to draw a large Kentucky audience due to anticipation surrounding the Triple Crown.
But the Heiner ad also appears at a time when Kentucky voters are being bombarded by political ads in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.
That decision opens Heiner to further criticism that his early moves are a sign of selfishness, which Comer had suggested earlier this year. But the Heiner campaign is trying to be unconventional and communicate with voters on its own timetable.
On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jack Conway announced his candidacy last month but has yet to release any commercials.