MURRAY — A McCracken County native is throwing his hat in the ring for Kentucky Secretary of State, saying he wishes to bring his extensive experience with election law to the Kentucky office.
Michael G. Adams, who was in Murray Monday, has been a longtime Republican, and has worked for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, as well as for President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice. Adams said with these and other experiences, he considers himself the most qualified candidate to run for the office.
“I grew up in McCracken County and I was the first college graduate on either side of my family,” Adams said. “I grew up going to Reidland High School and then I went to the University of Louisville on a full scholarship that was a specific program for political leaders at the McConnell Center. I did well enough there to be able to go to Harvard Law School and went there on low-income aide.”
Adams said that throughout high school, college and law school, he volunteered for Republican candidates.
“I found that I cared a lot about politics and I felt that I had an aptitude at it and that is what I made my career doing,” Adams said. “I came back to Kentucky and worked for Senator McConnell. I worked for Governor Fletcher; I was his No. 2 lawyer in his administration. Then I went to Washington for seven years, where I was counsel to the Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the second George W. Bush term. Then, 12 years ago, I was named General Counsel for the Republican Governor’s Association.”
Adams said that for the past 12 years, he has been an election law attorney at the national level for various Republican candidates and campaigns, including serving as the political law attorney for Vice President Mike Pence.
“For a lawyer who loves politics, it’s one of the best jobs in the world,” Adams said. “The best job is the one I am running for, which is to be the chief election official of the Commonwealth.”
Adams said he wanted to run because he is uniquely qualified to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. He said that he feels his background in election law, not only in Kentucky but all 50 states, makes him the most qualified candidate.
“It is an open seat and I felt that I was the best prepared person of anyone looking at the race to actually go in and on day one make changes,” Adams said. “Obviously I want to clean up the scandal in the Secretary of State’s Office (referring to several accusations against current Democratic Secretary Alison Lundergan Grimes of improperly using her office to look up voting records). I also want to bring a state-wide requirement of a photo ID to vote, which we currently don’t have in our law. I want to improve our cyber security and do little things on the margins to increase registration and turnout; I am a big believer in activity in the civic process via elections — I have contributed my whole career to that cause.”
Adams said the photo ID requirement would be his biggest objective as secretary of state. Adams said some county clerks ask for photo ID while others do not, so Adams’ objective would to make that requirement universal across the state.
“It is a common sense thing that other states have imposed,” Adams said.
Adams said improvements to cyber security would be another of his big goals for the office.
“Some of our clerk’s offices use unprotected wifi, which endangers our election systems,” Adams said. “You can hack into the wifi, you can disrupt the counting of the votes, you can disrupt voter registration records — so it is a big problem, and I think it is one that can be fixed without a lot of taxpayer dollars.”
Adams said he would look to better training and other best practices that he had seen in his experience across the country. Adams also said he wished to bring a “sense of integrity” back to the office of Secretary of State.
“I want to return a sense of integrity to the office,” Adams said. “There have been a lot of allegations and investigations of the incumbent. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty … but I think all the chaos and turmoil is bad for our state’s image and I would like to improve upon that.”
Adams also said that to his knowledge, he is the only person from western Kentucky running for statewide office.
“Currently none of our constitutional officers is from west of I-65, which is pretty amazing that the entire leadership of our government are all from the eastern half of state,” he said. “I would like to be the first Secretary of State from Paducah, but I will be the only one from western Kentucky if I win and I think that would be an advantage for western Kentucky.”