Kentucky Republican expanded voting access – now his own party is making him pay
State of Kentucky

Kentucky's Republican secretary of state expanded voting access during the pandemic and refuses to play along with election deniers – and now it could cost him his job.

First-term Michael Adams faces two GOP primary challengers -- information technology project manager Stephen Knipper and former state legislator Allen Maricle -- in a primary Tuesday after rolling back some voting restrictions and pledging to remain in the interstate voter database ERIC, reported NBC News.

“The other lesson I’ve learned from what happened to my colleagues in other states — Republicans who are incumbents in this office — is if you feed the tiger, it still eats you," Adams said. "If you cave and get into these conspiracy theories, all it does is validate them. You don’t get any respect or love for what you did, if you cave, they still eat you alive. … I’m not going to fall for that.”

Adams took office in 2020, and shortly afterward he teamed up with Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to expand mail-in voting and other measures through joint emergency powers in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and he helped usher through bipartisan legislation to add three days of early voting, establishing countywide polling supercenters and creating an online portal for voters to register and request ballots.

Those measures won widespread acclaim but could cost his job, much like Louisiana's Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who declined to seek re-election due to the "pervasive lies" from election deniers.

“He’s a conservative Republican. He’s run clean elections in this state, and he’s actually gone quite a bit further, I guess, to the right than I have," Adams said. "He pulled out of ERIC and things like that, and it wasn’t enough. He still had to drop out, because the environment is so ugly right now.”

Knipper, who did not respond to requests for comment, conducted a "Restore Election Integrity" tour around the state in 2021 claiming that Donald Trump had won the previous year's election, and he has made unsubstantiated claims that he personally witnessed hackers manipulate election results.

Maricle, who hasn't raised nearly as much money as Knipper -- whom he calls a “nut job” -- but still insists Kentucky is plagued by widespread voter fraud.