Sen. Donald Douglas has defeated Andrew Cooperrider for the GOP nomination to the 22nd Senate District.
Douglas won by significant margins in both Fayette and Jessamine counties, only narrowly losing Garrard County to Cooperrider. Per unofficial election night results from the district, Douglas won 6,114 to 4,840.
Douglas, who became the first Black member of the Senate GOP caucus when he won in a 2021 special election, moves on to face Democratic challenger Chuck Eddy in the primary.
All told, Douglas’ race against Cooperrider was the most expensive primary contest in Kentucky this year.
The incumbent Senator raised over $140,000 according to his Kentucky Registry of Election Finance (KREF) filing, but received tens of thousands of dollars in assistance from outside political action committees (PACs), which helped him dominate the Lexington-area airwaves. Cooperrider also raised about $125,000, and got some help from PACs as well.
Senate GOP Floor Leader Damon Thayer said that the Senate Campaign Caucus Committee (SRCCC) knew it would be a competitive race and the amount they chipped in to Douglas’ campaign was “a show of respect” to Cooperrider’s race.
District residents were bombarded with TV ads and mailers, both promoting one of the two candidates and bashing them.
Douglas told reporters that the hard work – his campaign only began in earnest when he finished this past legislative session mid-April – paid off.
“We didn’t have a big crew, but the crew that was here worked their butts off. They maintained confidence the whole time and they maintained proper decorum, which is what I’m most proud of,” Douglas said, emphasizing that his campaign did not “get in the mud.”
Cooperrider rose to prominence when his Lexington coffee shop, Brewed, defied Lexington’s COVID-19 restrictions. He ran as a deeply conservative, ‘Liberty’ candidate.
The challenger told the Herald-Leader that he was expecting to win by a much bigger margin in the more rural Garrard County.
He said that he hopes more “establishment” Republicans learn something from the tough fight he put up against Douglas.
“You hope they look at it and see they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on one state senate primary, realize they can’t keep spending that kind of money, then they make a change,” Cooperrider said.
He also said that he felt like the focus of money and attention on his race potentially aided candidates more aligned with his politics like two Northern Kentucky GOP primary winners Gex “Jay” Williams and Lindsey Tichenor.
Douglas said that he thought the result signaled that voters, at least in this district, prefer a candidate that isn’t brash and voted for his record in Frankfort.
“People in our district are tired of the bullying, of the loud talking, of promises that don’t get fulfilled,” Douglas said. “I think they were able to look at what I did in my three short months during session this year, and what we did as a general assembly, and say ‘you know, those guys got some things done.’”
The reason so much money was spent on the campaign? Negativity from Cooperrider’s campaign, Douglas said. He called it “unprecedented.”
He indicated that Libertarians trying to infiltrate the Republican party are the source of the negativity, and that an effort to “split” the Republican party fell quite short in his race.
“I don’t think the Republican Party is split. I think we had people from another party who for one reason or another were not satisfied with where they were in the Republican party, and tried to meld it with that other party,” Douglas said. “It just didn’t work very well, at least in my race.”
Thayer added that endorsements from Right to Life, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Congressman Andy Barr “made a huge difference” alongside Douglas’ campaign efforts.
Cooperrider, a mainstay at Frankfort rallies held during the COVID-19 pandemic, did not rule out a run for office in the future.
Douglas claimed the portion of Fayette County in the district 1,444 to 1,041; he beat Cooperrider in Jessamine County 3,266 to 2,371; and he lost Garrard County to Cooperrider, who won there 1,428 to 1,404.