Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams won the GOP primary and a shot at a second term on Tuesday, fending off challenges from two candidates who campaigned on allegations of voter fraud, the Associated Press predicted.
Adams beat Stephen Knipper, an IT project manager who also lost the 2019 Secretary of State primary, and Allen Maricle, a former state legislator. Both campaigned on allegations of voter fraud, turning the race into a referendum on the 2020 presidential election.
To hear Adams tell it, doing his job well is what got him a tough primary. In 2020, he worked with Democratic Governor Andy Beshear to expand voting access during the pandemic; the following year, he led the charge to codify some of those changes — including early voting — into Kentucky law, as well as some ballot security measures.
The 2021 compromise legislation has won notable broad bipartisan support, just as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country passed tough restrictions on mail-in voting.
In an interview, Adams said he was unwilling to respond to conspiracy theorists in the election administration, even if it meant he would lose his job.
“The other lesson I’ve learned from what’s happened to my colleagues in other states – the incumbent Republicans of this office – is that if you feed the tiger, it still eats you. If you give in and walk into these conspiracy theories, all of this just validates them,” Adams said. “I’m not going to fall for that.”
Knipper made headlines by hosting a Visit “Restoring the Integrity of Elections” around the state in 2021 claiming that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that he personally witnessed hackers manipulating US election results online, according to The State Journal, based in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Maricle didn’t go that far in his rhetoric (he called Knipper a “crazy job”), But he quarreled again that there is significant fraud in Kentucky elections, particularly in mail-in voting. There is no evidence of large and widespread fraud in Kentucky or anywhere else in the United States.
Adams now faces Democrat Charles Wheatley, a former state lawmaker, in the November general election.