Former Ohio State Rep. John Adams Challenges LaRose for Ohio GOP Secretary of State Nomination

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A four-term veteran of the Ohio House of Representatives has formally announced he will take on Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose for the GOP nomination to lead the key elections and business registration office.

John Adams of the western Ohio city of Sidney announced his candidacy the evening of Aug. 20 at a Seneca County fundraiser for judicial candidates headlined with a keynote by conservative U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14).

Adams was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 2006. He represented the 78th District until 2015.

Adams told The Ohio Star that the controversy over the possible undercounting of votes for Trump and the potential fraud in the use of ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots boosting Biden votes motivated him to run. He also cited what he considers LaRose’s missteps in the 2020 election as the reason for challenging LaRose.

“Polls show voters do not trust the election process,” Adams says. “If we had had a tighter election (vote) in Ohio, we would have had the same problems as Georgia.”

Specifically, he targeted LaRose’s support for those public drop boxes for absentee ballots as not secured through ‘chain of custody’ protections to guard against alleged voter fraud. The use of the boxes is controversial in Georgia and is at the center of an ongoing audit of the election there.

LaRose continues to support the limited use of drop boxes inside and outside of county board of elections offices even though Ohio elections law does not explicitly support their use. They became popular with voters unsure of casting their ballots in person and wary of the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to quickly deliver their ballots during the pandemic.

“I don’t, as the next secretary of state, endorse that at all,” Adams says.

He also claims LaRose played an active role in the last-minute, indefinite postponement of the March 17, 2020 primary at the onset of the Covid-19 virus epidemic after Gov. Mike DeWine failed to get a Lucas County common pleas judge to support an executive order to postpone the election.

“There’s only one entity that can change the date of an election and that is the Ohio General Assembly,” said Adams, who served eight years in the Ohio House, six as majority whip. “The Secretary of State didn’t have the authority to cancel that election.”

(Ohio legislators did, in fact, approve an exclusively mail-in ballot primary in late April with presidential and congressional candidates on the ballot as well local candidates and issues.)

Adams also said he wants to push for voters showing photo identifications in order to vote at the ballot box.

“We need a tighter voter I.D. law in Ohio,” he says. “You can go in now with an electric bill (as an ID). Voters want to see a photo I.D. and a signature to match.”

Mark Pukita, a suburban Columbus businessman running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, said he backs Adams’ candidacy.

“I strongly support John Adams because he supports an audit and recount” of the November election, Pukita tells The Ohio Star in a text message. Pukita was one of six Senate candidates present at the Seneca County fundraiser where Adams spoke. “Frank LaRose believes we have ‘no meaningful voter fraud’ in Ohio. I believe there is.”

Incumbent defends performance

The LaRose for Ohio reelection committee challenged Adams’ contention regarding the postponement of the election, noting that Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton directed the shutdown of the election through a health order signed in the late evening hours before the scheduled primary, not LaRose.

The LaRose campaign also pointed to the Republican National Committee’s Report of the Temporary Committee on Election Integrity released Aug. 11, which singles out Florida, Iowa, and Ohio for having  “managed their elections extraordinarily well in light of the obstacles they faced.”

Those obstacles, the report states, included having “fended off Democrat legal challenges, enacted reasonable accommodations in response to COVID, and maintained the integrity of the electoral process.”

The LaRose campaign, in the written response, also noted praise the secretary and other state and local officials received from President Donald Trump and conservative U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH-4) for their handling of the elections in Ohio, in which Trump easily defeated Democrat Joe Biden, whose election as president Congress certified in early January.

“Any challenger is welcome to take any misguided swipe they choose at (LaRose),” the statement reads, “but he is going to continue running proudly on that strong record of accomplishment.”

Challenges to the re-election of secretaries of state have risen in recent years as elections become more contentious and rulings from the elections divisions end up in court more often.

In an Aug. 2 article in The Hill,  Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican unrelated to the Ohio’s John Adams, said the “sleepy office” until recent years had attracted “paper pushers” working to oversee elections with integrity.

“If you’re secretary of state, you work for everybody and you’re personally held accountable for the quality of your election system, not just the integrity but the whole customer service experience,” says Kentucky’s Adams, who worked with Kentucky Democrats – including Gov. Andy Beshear – to improve elections in the state on a bipartisan basis. “Your handling of yourself has to be apolitical.”

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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to [email protected]
Photo “John Adams” by John Adams for Ohio Secretary of State

 

 

 

 

 

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