JESSAMINE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — With the Kentucky primary elections less than two weeks away, the Republican Party of Jessamine County held a debate between the incumbent state senator for District 22, Dr. Donald Douglas, and his challenger, small-business owner Andrew Cooperrider.
Senator Douglas won the seat in November after the previous senator, Tom Buford died. He is a longtime anesthesiologist and also Kentucky's first Black Republican state senator. Cooperrider owns the Brewed coffee shop in Lexington and came to prominence defying and rallying against state Covid restrictions.
They covered a lot of ground in the debate Thursday evening. Cooperrider criticized the Republican establishment for not fighting Covid restrictions harder. They discussed the idea of the state offering support in the form of in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants. Both said they were against that. They both spoke against vaccine mandates. Cooperrider criticized the Senate for not passing a bill that would have banned businesses from asking workers and customers their vaccine status. Douglas said the bill didn't come up for a vote. Cooperrider said Douglas was too concerned with operating within what he sees as a "good-old-boy" system in Frankfort.
"I think that Dr. Douglas thinks, cares more about what Frankfort thinks about him than what his district thinks about him. I think that's a big issue. I think you should be accountable to your voters, not your colleague in Frankfort," Cooperrider said.
Douglas, though, said that his tendency to look for common ground in the legislature is one thing that sets him apart in the race.
"I want to bring everybody together, not just at socioeconomic levels, but also the racial divide, and I want to bridge that republican and democrat divide. This is District 22. This is the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Ultimately, we are all Americans," Douglas said.
The Kentucky primary is May 17.