Trump-backed Ohio election chief defeats conservative foe in GOP primary

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose won the Republican nomination for his second term on Tuesday, defeating conservative challenger John Adams, who had questioned the legitimacy of the election. 2020 presidential.

LaRose will face Democrat Chelsea Clark, a suburban Cincinnati City Council member and businesswoman, in the November general election. Clark ran unopposed in the primary.

READ MORE: 2022 Ohio Primary Election Results

Despite Adams’ open questioning about the 2020 results, former President Donald Trump had endorsed LaRose in the race. LaRose adopted some of Trump’s talking points on voter fraud before winning Trump’s endorsement, even though he had previously defended the validity of the 2020 election.

Ohio’s election was the first of several closely watched races for secretaries of state in the midterm elections. The position rose to prominence on the national political scene as Trump endorsed candidates who supported his lies that massive voter fraud cost him his re-election.

Primaries for major electoral offices will follow over the next few weeks in Nebraska, Idaho, Alabama and presidential battleground Georgia. While Indiana also holds a primary Tuesday, candidates for secretary of state and some other positions won’t be decided until party conventions in June.

Voters in about two dozen states will decide who will be their state’s next election official this year. In three politically important states – Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas – the office will be filled by whoever wins the gubernatorial race. In New Hampshire, the decision will be made by the state legislature – currently controlled by Republicans.

LaRose, a former Green Beret and former state senator, had supported Trump in his inaugural run for president and was part of a team handling the logistics of Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

Adams, an Army and Navy veteran and former state legislator, had criticized LaRose for his role in postponing the March 2020 primary during the coronavirus pandemic.

That month, as concerns over COVID-19 accelerated, LaRose ordered all 88 Ohio County Boards to comply with the state health director’s order the day before the primary on March 17 to close polling stations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He postponed in-person voting until June 2.

This schedule was later challenged in court by the Ohio Democratic Party, which argued that all remaining votes be cast by mail.

Lawmakers ultimately set a new primary election, almost exclusively by mail, for April 28, 2020, contrary to LaRose’s wishes.

This year, LaRose once again found himself in the spotlight due to his dual role as state election chief and GOP representative on the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission charged with drawing new legislative maps. Because the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly dismissed proposed redistricting maps as unconstitutional gerrymanders, the state is holding a partial primary on Tuesday, with the state’s legislative races decided later.

In the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, LaRose said, “The election is going better and more honestly than I think it ever has.” Months later, he said in an interview what has proven true in state after state – that voter fraud is rare.

In February, LaRose changed his tone on Twitter, saying “the mainstream media is trying to downplay voter fraud based on their narrative” and

“President Donald Trump is right that voter fraud is a serious problem.” Trump endorsed LaRose in April.

Adams said he ran for state because he didn’t believe Trump lost the 2020 election.

“Why am I running for the post of Secretary of State? Adams said at a campaign event last month. “Well, we had an election two years ago, and I woke up the next morning and said, ‘You’re kidding me. There’s no way Trump lost. Not at all.'”

Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth contributed to this report.


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