LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Republican Sen. Donald Douglas hast staved off a primary challenge in the race for the District 22 Senate seat.

Douglas was elected in a special election last year following the sudden death of Sen. Tom Buford. Local businessman Andrew Cooperrider challenged Douglas for the seat, hoping to pitch voters as an outsider, anti-establishment candidate.

Cooperrider rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic for his refusal to close his coffee shop and defy restrictions by the Beshear administration. If re-elected this would be Douglas’ first full four-year term.

“What we did tonight, what you’re seeing tonight is a bunch of fighters who didn’t get in the mud. A bunch of fighters who didn’t change their values. A bunch of fighters who didn’t change their hearts to try and win, that’s what America is about and that’s what we need,” Sen. Douglas said in a speech to supporters.

“You always go out for a win but we know taking the path of – taking a stand against the status quo and the establishment is going to be difficult we know they have more money than we do and we know they’re going to dump it into it like they did in this race and you just hope you can keep kinda pecking away at them and eventually maybe you can just break them down,” Cooperrider told FOX 56 Tuesday night.

At around 9:15 p.m., Douglas began emerging as the frontrunner. Both candidates faced tight vote margins in the counties they represent.

The Garrard County Clerk reported a margin of 24 votes between Cooperrider and Douglas. In that county, Cooperrider came out on top with 1428 votes to Douglas’ 1404.

However, in Jessamine and Fayette Counties, Douglas held on to a more solid lead. Jessamine showed the strongest support for Douglas with a lead of just under 900 votes. Douglas took 3,266 votes in that county to Cooperrider’s 2,371. The Fayette County Clerk reported 1444 votes for Douglas and 1041 for Cooperrider.

The tightly-contested primary moves on to a general election challenge. Douglas will face Democrat Chuck Eddy, who ran unopposed, on November 8.