Cooperrider announces run for Treasurer. Could other ‘Liberty’ candidates run statewide?

Arden Barnes
·3 min read

Two months after losing by double digits to Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville, in a heated primary, Andrew Cooperrider is running for elected office again.

This time, the coffee shop owner-turned political candidate is gunning for a statewide role: State Treasurer.

Cooperrider, who lost to Douglas in the most expensive primary of the 2022 cycle 6,114 to 4,840, announced his run on social media over the weekend.

“We need a proven conservative fighter to be the elected watchdog of our tax dollars. Given my experience fighting big government and exposing corruption in our state, I believe I’m the right person for the job,” Cooperrider wrote.

Current Treasurer Allison Ball is term-limited, having held the office since winning the 2015 election, and is considering a run for Auditor.

Cooperrider, 30, told the Herald-Leader that the position made sense for him because of the fiscal policies that he forwarded in his Senate run: making government smaller and spending as little money as possible.

In addition to pushing generally conservative fiscal policy, Cooperrider said that he would aim to publish something similar to Sen. Rand Paul’s “Festivus Report,” which highlights government spending perceived as wasteful. He also said he’d further scrutinize state government awarding no-bid contracts and the Kentucky Retirement System as a whole.

Cooperrider rose to political prominence when his Lexington coffee shop, Brewed, defied Lexington’s COVID-19 restrictions. He ran for Senate as a deeply conservative, ‘Liberty’ candidate. Douglas’ campaign raised more than $140,000, and outside groups spent several thousand dollars in support of his bid against Cooperrider as well.

Cooperrider added that he believes he could parlay some statewide name recognition from his notoriety as a businessman who stood against the restrictions.

“Politically it makes a lot of sense. With what I care about, it makes a lot of sense,” Copperrider said. “I think a question for the state Senate race is ‘was it almost a little too local?’”

Who else might run?

President of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) OJ Oleka told the Herald-Leader that he is considering a run for treasurer.

Oleka, 34, is a Frankfort native who worked as a deputy treasurer under Ball for three years. He has been president of AIKCU since December 2019 and will be stepping down from his post this November.

“I just think it’s incredibly important that we have qualified conservative leaders, who can not only win with a broad coalition in November, but also govern effectively in their job over the next four years,” Oleka said. “You need somebody who understands the intricacies of government, somebody who has proven that they can lead in a conservative manner. I think that should I be in the race, there will be nobody more qualified than me on either side, quite frankly.”

Cooperrider said that he was aware of Oleka’s potential run. He said that he believes the primary philosophical difference between him and Oleka is that he “believes that government is the problem.” He also said that he has high name recognition statewide, which could be a boost in running for the office.

Oleka, who holds a PhD in education leadership as well as an MBA from Bellarmine University, stressed that he believes he would be the most qualified for the role given his education and professional experience.

“You need somebody who has a clear head who understands the importance of a good financial structure in government,” Oleka said. “... it would be a disservice to believers in limited, good government if you didn’t put somebody in the role who understood what they’re doing”

With gubernatorial Savannah Maddox running as a candidate with politics similar to Cooperrider’s ‘Liberty’ wing of the state Republican party, Cooperrider predicted that there would be candidates running for each statewide office – including Secretary of State, Auditor and Attorney General – from that section of the GOP.