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Down-ballot races for Ky. agriculture commissioner, treasurer and auditor take shape after primary election

A mother votes early at The Jeffersonian on Nov. 3, 2022.
Roberto Roldan
A mother votes early at The Jeffersonian on Nov. 3, 2022.

While the hotly contested Republican primary for governor took center stage Tuesday, voters also selected candidates for Kentucky’s other statewide offices.

Republicans elected to stick with Secretary of State Michael Adams despite challenges from election deniers. He’ll face former Democratic state Rep. Buddy Wheatley in the general election.

Also trailing the marquee race, Democrats and Republicans chose nominees for agriculture commissioner, treasurer and state auditor of public accounts. There was no election for attorney general, where Democratic Rep. Pamela Stevenson and former Republican U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman both ran unopposed.

Here’s how the races for Kentucky’s statewide offices are taking shape:

Agriculture Commissioner

With Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles term-limited and running for governor, an entirely new field of candidates are hoping to take over the post.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Richard Heath, the chair of the state House Agriculture Committee, lost to former state Rep. Jonathan Shell. Shell received about 56% of the vote. It was the second time Heath lost the Republican nomination for agriculture commissioner.

Sierra Enlow, an economic development consultant from LaRue County, beat out Mikael Malone in the Democratic primary.

In Kentucky, the agriculture commissioner oversees licensing, marketing and policymaking for farmers and other food producers. The commissioner also acts as a consumer watchdog, ensuring quality food and gasoline.

Auditor of Public Accounts

Current Auditor Mike Harmon is also term-limited and trying to move up the ladder, creating an open contest for the office.

Democrat Kimberley Reeder, a tax lawyer from Rowan County, ran unopposed in the primary.

Republican voters had two choices on the ballot: current state Treasurer Allison Ball and Derek Leonard Petteys, a certified fraud examiner in Lexington. Ball claimed a decisive victory Tuesday, beating out Petteys with roughly 72% of the vote.

Kentucky’s auditor of public accounts is responsible for ensuring state agencies are not misusing taxpayer funds. The auditor conducts more than 600 audits of accounts and financial transactions annually.

State Treasurer

Republicans saw a three-way race for State Treasurer on Tuesday between Andrew Cooperrider, Mark Metcalf and OJ Oleka.

Garrard County Attorney Mark Metcalf came out on top, earning 51% of the vote. Cooperrider, a Lexington coffee shop owner who came to prominence by challenging Gov. Andy Beshear over COVID-19 mitigation measures, fell short of winning the nomination with 29%.

Oleka, a former staffer for Treasurer Ball who runs his own management consulting firm, came in last with roughly 20% of the vote.

The treasurer oversees the state’s investments and acts as the government’s chief financial officer.

Michael Bowman, who currently serves as a special assistant to the lieutenant governor and secretary of education, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

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