Comer sees 'positive' in latest 2015 poll; Answers questions on relationship with Churchill Downs

08/14/2014 06:27 PM

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who will soon file to run for governor in the Republican primary, says the latest polling from Public Policy Polling is “positive” adding that he will increase his name id after he files and starts to run a race in September.

Comer also answered criticisms on his working relationship with Brett Hale a former Vice President of Churchill Downs — the company which recently donated six-figures to a PAC which will play a role in the gubernatorial primary.

Matt Bevin, who has not announced a run for any office in 2015 polls ahead of Comer and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner. Bevin has 25 percent in a three way poll, followed by Comer with 20 percent and Hal Heiner trailing at 18 percent.

But it was a head-to-head comparison that Comer singled out.

“What I did take from the poll is, of the Republican candidates, I run the strongest against Jack Conway,” Comer said.

Conway is the only Democrat in the race for governor so far and quickly grabbing endorsements and campaign cash.

“Hal Heiner was in third. He’s spent over one million dollars in this race — he’s already spent more money in this governor’s primary then David Williams spent the entire primary against Phil Moffett,” Comer said.

A head-to-head matchup between Comer and Heiner shows Heiner with a 6 point advantage over Comer. Heiner brought in 28 percent compared to 22 percent for Comer with 50 percent of respondents saying they were undecided.

“We’ve seen polls that show me with a 30 point lead so it depends on who you poll. Are you going to poll somebody that’s going to vote in the election or not,” Comer said adding Heiner has more name id because of ads already running on television.

When the numbers were released Heiner said he was encouraged by the lead.

“Every day, Kentuckians tell me they are looking for a Governor from outside the Frankfort political establishment who has the type of business experience necessary to attract and grow good paying jobs for Kentucky families,” Heiner said. “It is apparent that our message is gaining traction, and I appreciate the tremendous amount of support we have generated in the last five months.”

Comer also answered questions from Pure Politics on the appearance of connections to Churchill Downs, as reported by the Courier Journal.

The Courier wrote that former Churchill Downs senior vice-president to corporate affairs Brett Hale, has ties to Comer via donations, and other family ties to the Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile the newspaper points out the Churchill has declined to tell the paper why they’ve donated $100,000 to the Next Generation Leadership Fund, a PAC which has said it will spend the money in the 2015 governors primary.

Comer said he struggled seeing the connection between Churchill, Hale and Comer.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



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