Hal Heiner's campaign manager resigned earlier this month but still '100 percent' behind candidate

12/22/2014 03:49 PM

The same day Holly Harris VonLuehrte announced her departure from the gubernatorial campaign of Agriculture Commission James Comer, the campaign of Louisville Republican Hal Heiner revealed it had also lost a top operative this month.

Joe Burgan, who had managed Heiner’s campaign since its launch in March, said he decided to resign his post Dec. 9 to explore other options, preferably a more flexible schedule so he can spend more time raising his newborn son. He said he “had a series of conversations” with Heiner before finalizing his decision.

“Campaigns take a lot of time and I have a 2-month-old son, and so I’m looking at options to give me a little more time,” Burgan said in a phone interview with Pure Politics.

WHAS-TV first reported Burgan’s and VonLuehrte’s departures Friday.

Unlike Comer, who said former U.S. Sen. Rand Paul field representative Edwin King would take over VonLuerhte’s duties in the first week of January, Heiner’s campaign had already hired a new point man about a month before Burgan’s exit. Kyle Robertson, former campaign manager for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, joined Heiner’s team as a senior advisor in November to direct the campaign and ground organization.

Doug Alexander, Heiner’s spokesman, confirmed Burgan’s resignation from the campaign to pursue other interests, but he declined further comment on the matter.

Burgan, who had previously managed Heiner’s unsuccessful Louisville mayoral bid in 2010, said he will continue to support the candidate’s gubernatorial campaign, though he declined to elaborate on potential employment opportunities. He said he feels “very positive” about Heiner’s prospects against Comer in the May 19 GOP primary and, eventually, in a general election against the Democratic nominee.

“Every survey that’s come out shows that there’s not a clear frontrunner in this race, and I think that Hal’s financial advantage puts him right at the top of the list here,” Burgan said, referencing Heiner’s roughly $3 million cash advantage over Comer after loaning his campaign some $4.2 million. “He’s going to be able to get his message out. I think that he has a message that people can embrace as someone that’s a Frankfort outsider. I think that he is extremely well positioned to win this race.”

Alexander echoed Burgan’s confidence in Heiner, saying the Republican has worked to build a strong grassroots network and share his vision with voters across Kentucky. And after bankrolling much of his gubernatorial bid since he entered the GOP field, Alexander said Heiner has busied himself at a number of fundraisers as the fourth quarter campaign finance deadline approaches.

“With the quarter closing out, we’ll see where everybody stands, but yes, we’ve had a very busy period,” Alexander said.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.