Michael Adams overcomes election deniers, keeps GOP nomination for secretary of state

Kentucky Republicans stayed loyal to Secretary of State Michael Adams on Tuesday, giving him their party’s nomination for a second time despite protest from some in the GOP who insist that elections are rigged.

Adams will take on former state Rep. Buddy Wheatley, D-Covington, in the Nov. 7 general election. Wheatley is an attorney and retired Covington fire chief.

Buddy Wheatley
Buddy Wheatley

Over the last four years, Adams, 47, won bipartisan praise for his work with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and the Republican-led General Assembly to expand absentee and early voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and to purge several hundred thousand dead or inactive voters from the rolls.

However, he drew two primary challengers from a hostile faction within his own party.

On the political right, some critics say they resent Adams’ testy dismissal of their election fraud claims and the recount demands of certain “Liberty”-aligned Republican primary losers last year. A handful of local Republican Parties have passed resolutions censuring him.

An election law specialist by profession, Adams has spoken bluntly of election deniers’ “irresponsible chatter,” “demagoguery” and “hogwash.” He told one interviewer, “I think they just want to watch the world burn.”

On Tuesday, Adams beat Steve Knipper, 52, an election denier who has run twice before for secretary of state, and former state Rep. Allen Maricle, 60.

Of the two vanquished candidates, Knipper in particular vocally questioned the legitimacy of the elections of Democrats Beshear in 2019 and President Joe Biden in 2020.

Both challengers criticized Adams for his loyalty to the Electronic Registration Information Center, a respected nonprofit national database that Kentucky and 30 other states supported in order to keep their voter rolls accurate.

A growing number of Republican-led states quit ERIC this year under political pressure as right-wing websites spread rumors accusing it of being a scheme funded by liberal billionaire George Soros to register Democrats to vote while also compromising voters’ personal information on poorly protected computers.