Democrat Heather French Henry faces Republican Michael Adams in Secretary of State race

Heather French Henry and Michael G. Adams
Heather French Henry and Michael G. Adams

A former commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs easily bested three other candidates to win the Democratic primary for Kentucky Secretary of State on Tuesday. Heather French Henry, a former Miss America, will face Republican Michael Adams in the November general election.

Henry received 71 percent of the vote Tuesday in a landslide victory over opponents Jason S. Belcher, a writer, Jason Griffith, a band director at Letcher County High School, and Geoff Sebesta, a comic book artist.

Adams, a first-time candidate, received 41 percent, according to State Board of Election results. Andrew English, a former general counsel for the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, came in second. Stephen Knipper, who ran for the office in 2015, was third. Carl Nett was fourth.

The $124,113-a-year state job involves maintaining state records, registering businesses and overseeing elections. The office has an annual operating budget of about $5 million and 35 employees. The winner of the November contest will replace outgoing Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is finishing her second term and can not run for a third term.

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Henry, 44, was appointed by then-Gov. Steve Beshear to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2014. She served as deputy commissioner during Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration but left the post to campaign. Her husband is former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, who served under Gov. Paul Patton.

Henry chalked up her landslide victory to her decades of service advocating for military veterans. She has also spent the past five years working at a state agency first for a Democrat and then a Republican governor.

“I have been able to work with both sides of the aisle and was able to get a lot of great work done on behalf of military veterans,” Henry said Tuesday night. “The secretary of state’s office should be run as a non-partisan agency.”

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Adams, 43, a Republican election lawyer, has represented Vice President Mike Pence’s political committee, the National Federation of Republican Women and other conservative candidates, committees and causes. Adams said he supported requiring voters to present photo identification and in campaign ads pledged to “clean up all the corruption left behind by liberals in Frankfort.”

Secretary of State


  • Heather French Henry 263,419
  • Jason Belcher 47,923
  • Jason Griffith 47,655
  • Geoff Sebasta 12,088


  • Michael Adams 94,404
  • Andrew English 62,677
  • Stephen Knipper 41,367
  • Carl Nett 30,340

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