Stumbo's shot at Heiner? Speaker proposes bill aimed at helping opponents of self-funders

02/11/2014 05:37 PM

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s latest bill would increase the $1,000 contribution limit to $2,500 for candidates for governor who are running against a self-funding opponent who invests more than $1 million on his or her campaign.

As soon as a candidate for governor or lieutenant governor hits that $1 million threshold, candidates on the opposing slates would be able to raise up to $2,500 per person.

Stumbo used the example of the potential Republican primary for governor in 2015, in which Louisville developer and former mayoral candidate Hal Heiner is considering a run, as is Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Heiner has the personal fortune to jump-start his campaign with a significant down-payment from his own bank account.

And it just so happens that Heiner has founded a super PAC aimed at bumping Stumbo out of his job as speaker. Heiner announced last month the creation of his New Direction Kentucky PAC aimed at raising and spending money to help Republicans take the state House in the November elections. Democrats hold a 54-46 advantage in the state House.

Stumbo said he thought it was only fair that a farmer from Monroe County — meaning Comer — be better able to keep up with a “wealthy developer from Louisville.”

Stumbo, who hasn’t eliminated the possibility of running in the 2015 governor’s race himself, said the bill wasn’t aimed at any other potential Democrats — Attorney General Jack Conway, for instance. Watch:

While Stumbo said he’s always been concerned about this, he ran as a lieutenant governor candidate with one of the biggest self-funders in recent Kentucky political history, Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, in 2007. They lost to Steve Beshear and Daniel Mongiardo.

Stumbo said ultimately he’d like to see the $1,000 contribution limits in state races raised to match the individual contribution limits for federal offices, like the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Currently, that’s $2,600 per election.

That’s something Heiner and Stumbo actually agree on. In fact, that’s what Heiner’s camp came back with in response to Stumbo’s bill.

“Hal supports all efforts to bring more fairness into the campaign process, including adjusting Kentucky contribution limits to match federal guidelines,” said Joe Burgan on behalf of Heiner.

Comer, meanwhile, didn’t address the bill but did a little chest-beating in advance of the primary.

“I’m not that worried about money. I’d rather run against a person with a lot of money than a person with a lot of support,” Comer said.

Republican House Leader Jeff Hoover, who is close to Comer, said in concept he could support Stumbo’s approach.


Subscribe to email updates.

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