LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Races for state attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor and treasurer were decided by voters Tuesday in Kentucky.
Republicans swept the categories, with Republican attorney and former elections board member Michael Adams elected as next secretary of state; Republican Daniel Cameron elected as attorney general, becoming the first African American in the state’s history to win the office; Republican Mike Harmon reelected as Kentucky auditor; Republican Ryan Quarles reelected as Kentucky commissioner of agriculture; and Republican incumbent Allison Ball winning a second term as Kentucky’s treasurer.
Adams played up his conservative connections and expertise in election law to overcome the more well-known candidate, former Miss America Heather French Henry. Although Henry ran on the Democratic ticket, she called herself a nonpartisan candidate.
Adams called himself the only conservative and took a hard line on issues that included requiring photo identification to vote, cleaning up the voter rolls, keeping primaries closed and offering ballots in English only.
He will succeed Democrat Allison Lundergan Grimes, who is in her second term and could not run again due to term limits.
Cameron was backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump. Cameron will also be the first Republican in 70 years to be the state’s top prosecutor when he takes office.
Cameron defeated Democrat Greg Stumbo, who served as attorney general from 2004-08 and is also a former speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives. Cameron overcame challenges from Stumbo about his lack of experience and a lawsuit from a Louisville resident that said Cameron didn’t have enough years as a practicing attorney to run for the office.
Cameron worked as McConnell’s general counsel and helped push through the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. He also played football at the University of Louisville.
Harmon defeated Democrat Sheri Donahue, a cybersecurity expert who audited weapons projects for the U.S. Navy.
Harmon, a former state representative, said his job since getting elected in 2015 has been to “follow the data” wherever it leads. The auditor is in charge of overseeing audits of state agencies and county governments.
Harmon’s office performed an audit of two of the state’s largest public pension systems and released the results in August. The audit reported the pension systems had not been properly disclosing information about how they invest money and pay investment managers.
Harmon was a state legislator from central Kentucky before he was elected auditor.
Quarles defeated Democrat Robert Conway, a farmer from Scott County. Quarles says he has expanded the Kentucky Proud brand in his first term and touted the growth of the hemp industry in the state. He says about 1,000 Kentucky farmers are growing the crop.
Quarles has said he supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but says it should be up to the General Assembly to make that decision. Conway was a strong supporter of medicinal marijuana for pain relief for cancer patients and others.
Quarles has worked to expand markets available to farmers and said he is the first ag commissioner to have staff who focus on international trade.
Ball defeated Democrat Michael Bowman, a bank executive and former legislative aide on Louisville’s Metro Council.
Ball, of Prestonsburg, says in her first term as treasurer she has been a watchdog of taxpayer dollars, has stopped fraud and embezzlement attempts and promoted financial literacy.
Ball supported a recently passed state law that established the Kentucky Financial Empowerment Commission, which is charged with improving the financial literacy of Kentuckians. Ball was also named the chair of the National Association of State Treasurer’s Financial Education and Empowerment Committee.
The Secretary of State’s Office predicted turnout at about 31% of registered voters, which would be a slight increase from the 2015 governor’s race.