LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — A prominent Kentucky banker mentioned as a potential Republican candidate for governor says he's backing someone else, amid the jockeying two years ahead of the race.
Stanford banker Jess Correll said he's urging former Louisville councilman Hal Heiner to enter the race as Republicans look to wrest the governorship from Democrats in 2015.
Heiner, who lost a hard-fought campaign for mayor of Kentucky's largest city in 2010, said Wednesday he's seriously considering the governor's race.
"I've really encouraged him to get in there with both feet," Correll said in a phone interview.
Correll's backing of a potential Heiner campaign comes amid the early stages of the GOP field for governor taking shape, at least through subtraction.
Earlier this week, Republican businessman Phil Moffett ruled out another run for governor in 2015. Moffett, a tea party advocate who was runner-up in the 2011 GOP gubernatorial primary, is instead running for a state House seat in suburban Louisville next year.
Moffett said state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer would be the front-runner if he enters the GOP primary for governor.
Comer, who has gained an unusually high profile for an ag commissioner, says he's seriously considering a bid for governor.
Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie earlier said he wouldn't run for governor in 2015, saying he had decided to keep his full attention on his congressional work.
Correll, chairman of a banking company that has a presence in a number of Kentucky communities, said he was being encouraged to run for governor. But the seventh-generation Kentuckian said he'd rather see Heiner enter the race, saying the Louisville developer would lead the state in a new direction.
"He reflects Kentucky's conservative values," Correll said.
Heiner said he appreciates the backing and respects Correll. He said it's premature to talk about potential running mates when he's still pondering the race.
Heiner, who served two terms on the Louisville Metro Council, said he would push for changes in education and the tax system if he enters the race.
"Kentucky has very serious problems and quite frankly I'm not seeing the leadership or the will to address the problems in Frankfort," he said.
Democrat Steve Beshear is in the middle of his second term as governor. Governors are limited to two terms in Kentucky.