Secretary of State Michael Adams


FRANKFORT, KY (January 2, 2024) – Secretary of State Michael Adams was sworn in for a second term as Secretary of State in an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday. He delivered the following remarks:  

“It is great to not be fired.

In our Commonwealth’s first two hundred years, we, the elected executive branch officials, were given just one four-year term to fulfill all our campaign promises. Fortunately, we amended our Constitution in 1992 to be a little more lenient, and allow us late-bloomer constitutional officers to serve a second consecutive term. I appreciate that, because I’m not done yet. I need more time, and I’m grateful to have been given it.

The first time I stood here and took this oath and said, “So help me, God,” what I really felt was “So, help me, God!” Looking back on the unpredictable crises that were to threaten our elections, not long after that ceremony, and the way that we not only overcame them, but actually led the rest of the country in election administration, election reform, and standing up for truth, it is apparent that He heard my oath the way I meant it.

I’ll level with you: these occasions can be a little awkward. Kentuckians continue to split their tickets, and we who win find ourselves alongside successful candidates from the opposing party, after a tough, even brutal campaign. Tension is inevitable. In the interest of putting politics aside, and coming together, I’d like to put to rest a rumor about my own intentions, and announce today that I will not be a candidate for president against Andy Beshear in 2028.

Three weeks ago, another inaugural speech was delivered, on the north front of this building. It was a clarion call for civility. I hope it won’t surprise you, given the way I’ve tried to comport myself, that I agreed with those sentiments; however, civility is not enough. Our state remains at the bottom in far too many categories, and at the top in far too many undesirable categories. Now is not a time for timidity. Let’s stop thanking God for Mississippi. Awakening from our inertia, and demanding a Kentucky worthy of our people, and achieving it, for ourselves and our posterity, is the challenge of our time.

Are we going to continue to create a business and tax environment that will attract new Kentuckians from other states, and even other countries? Just as important, are we going to offer a tolerant and welcoming society that won’t repel those otherwise interested in becoming Kentuckians? If we don’t accomplish these ends, not only will we miss out on opportunity, and watch Tennessee and Indiana continue to eat our lunch; we could also lose our next generation to other states too, a generation uninterested in re-litigating the culture wars of the 80s. So yes, three cheers for civility: but the best way to bring back civility, is to find unity, to find common purpose on these goals and get to work. For all our differences, we have one thing we share: our destiny as Kentuckians.

You’ll notice the Capitol is a bit of a mess. Sorry about that. As the saying goes, Pardon Our Progress. But, at least it gives me a metaphor to work with.

Kentucky isn’t perfect. Our government certainly isn’t. It is a continuous work in progress. When we see a blemish, we touch it up. When we see decline, we work to improve. This building was completed in 1910, and this is its first major renovation. Sometimes, Kentucky can be slow to progress, agonizingly so. At our worst, we resist modernity; but at our best, we are truly something to behold, a positive example for our southern neighbors and the rest of our country.

It’s been said, by someone I admire greatly, that the most powerful word in the English language is “focus”. I don’t disagree. I’d suggest the second most powerful word is “yet”. Kentucky is not the best place for each kid to be safe, or to be healthy, or to get a quality education, or to have an opportunity to succeed. That is, it is not, yet.

Thank you very much.”

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