GOP Primary for KY State Treasurer Turns Ugly

A three-way Republican primary for state Treasurer is taking a negative turn with just two weeks until election day.

With a governor’s race stealing most of the oxygen in the room, Republican candidates for state Treasurer OJ Oleka, Mark Metcalf, and Andrew Cooperrider are making their cases, and in one case going negative to gain traction in the final days.

This week, Cooperrider, a Lexington coffee shop owner who refused to close for in-person dining in 2020 during the pandemic and unsuccessfully ran for state Senate last year, is reusing some of his Senate campaign material in a new ad. In the ad, Cooperrider is seeking to label competitor OJ Oleka as a liar while simultaneously promoting his own candidacy.

Oleka responded to the ad in an interview with Kentucky Fried Politics.

“I have been involved in Republican politics as long as I can remember,” Oleka said. “My record in the GOP is strong.”

Oleka said he has been a member of the Republican Party for more than a decade and is endorsed by more than 40 Republican officials. Adding he is “very happy with my record as a Republican.”

Oleka is on air with a positive ad, “I like Oleka.”

Garrard Co. Attorney Mark Metcalf also seeks the statewide post, loaning nearly $200,000 to his campaign in the latest finance report. While Cooperrider’s ad runs locally in the Lexington area, Metcalf has a : 15-second ad running statewide.

There is a geographic overlap between Metcalf and Cooperrider. Cooperrider ran for state Senate in Jessamine, Garrard, and parts of Fayette County. Interestingly, Garrard Co., where Metcalf lives, is the only county Cooperrider won in the 2022 primary for state Senate.

The winner of the primary contest will face Michael Bowman, who was the Democratic nominee in 2019 against incumbent Republican Treasurer Allison Ball. Bowman received more than 770,000 votes in the race garnering 39 percent of the vote in 2019.