Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams won the Republican primary and a chance at a second term Tuesday, avoiding challenges from two candidates who campaigned on claims of voter fraud, The Associated Press projected.
Adams defeated Stephen Knipper, an information technology project manager who also lost the 2019 secretary of state primary, and Allen Maricle, a former state legislator. Both campaigned on claims of voter fraud, turning the contest 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, she worked with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to expand voting access during the pandemic; the following year, she led the charge to codify some of those changes, including early voting, into Kentucky law, along with some ballot security measures.
The 2021 compromise legislation won broad and notable bipartisan support, just as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country were enacting strong restrictions on voting by mail.
In an interview, Adams told NBC News that he was unwilling to cater to conspiracy theorists in the election administration, even if it meant losing his job.
“The other lesson I learned from what happened to my colleagues in other states, the Republicans who hold this office, is that if you feed the tiger, it still eats you. If you give in and get into these conspiracy theories, all it does is validate them,» Adams said. «I’m not going to fall for that.»
Knipper made headlines by executing a “Restore Electoral Integrity” Tour statewide in 2021, claiming that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that he personally watched hackers rig US election results online, according to The State Journal, based in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Maricle did not go that far in his rhetoric (he has called Knipper a «dumb job»), but has still discussed that there is significant fraud in Kentucky elections, particularly in voting by mail. There is no evidence of significant and widespread fraud in Kentucky or anywhere else in the US.
Adams now faces Democrat Charles Wheatley, a former state legislator, in the November general election.