Michael G. Adams, the Republican nominee for Kentucky Secretary of State, arrived in Owensboro Thursday to campaign across the western part of the state and attend the ceremonial signing of four pro-life bills by Gov. Matt Bevin.
As Adams, a 42-year-old Paducah native, prepares to take on Democratic nominee Heather French Henry in the general election this November, he spoke to Owensboro Times about his years of political experience, his platform and his hopes for western Kentucky’s future.
Being from the western part of the state, an area that historically hasn’t gotten as much attention from Frankfort as those east of Interstate 65, Adams said he understands the issues facing this half of the Commonwealth.
“There were about nine counties that Matt Bevin won in the last election, but the Republican candidate for this office lost. I’m working on flipping those counties,” he said. “[Daviess County] is probably my biggest target as a swing county.”
The last time someone from far western Kentucky was on the ballot was in 1975, Adams said.
“It’s very rare to have a western Kentuckian nominated for statewide office,” he said. “Currently, all of our elected officials in constitutional offices are from east of I-65. Obviously, that’s not acceptable. I don’t think western Kentucky gets what it deserves from elected officials in Frankfort, and that’s something that I want to change.”
Aside from flipping swing-vote counties and putting western Kentucky back on the map, Adams’ other big focus for this part of the state is to continue meshing his conservative beliefs with the conservative beliefs of those in western Kentucky.
“I want to offer a western Kentucky choice, but I also want to offer a conservative choice as a conservative candidate,” he said.
In light of national news concerning current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) — who is currently battling charges of abusing authority, gaining improper access to election data and directing her staff to misuse voter data — Adams said the position of secretary of state is garnering more attention than ever right now. However, Adams said his Democratic opponent has not taken a stance against Lundergan Grimes’ actions, nor will she speak publicly about the case.
“Heather French Henry has been unwilling to comment, or let alone criticize these scandals coming out of Alison Grimes’ office,” he said. “She’s been dodging the media. She’s not actively campaigning.”
But Heather French Henry visited Owensboro in May just before the primary election. She spoke to a group of around 100 people about her past political experience, her plans and hopes for the future and her ongoing dedication to military veterans across the Commonwealth.
French Henry served as commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs under Governors Steve Beshear and Matt Bevin. She won the titles of Miss Kentucky in 1999 and Miss America in 2000 and has a local connection through her husband, former Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Steve Henry, whose family is from Owensboro.
Policy differences separate the two candidates on many levels. One of Adams’ big platforms is on not printing nor promoting election ballots in different languages.
“She opposes requiring a photo ID to vote in Kentucky elections, which is pretty far from the mainstream of what most people think,” he said. “Even national polls show an 80/20 support for photo ID at elections. It’s probably 95-to-5 here. She is in favor of requiring the provision of ballots in multiple languages. If you’re in Miami, that makes sense, I get that. But in Kentucky, that doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Adams said the cost of printing ballots with multiple languages would be an extremely expensive endeavor and U.S. citizens’ should already know the English language, even if they aren’t originally from America.
“In Kentucky, you probably always spoke English, or you immigrated here legally, you took a required citizenship test,” he said. “This is a solution in search of a problem.”
Some of Adams’ started a national election law practice and served as the general counsel for the Republican Governors Association. Adams has worked for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and George W. Bush’s administration.
Adams won by 14 points in the primary election against three other Republican nominees.