TOPEKA — The Democratic campaign committee working to reelect U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids turned a spotlight Thursday on Republican nominee Amanda Adkins’ gratitude for the endorsement by a Kansas sheriff engaged in a secretive investigation of alleged election fraud.
Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden’s endorsement of Adkins was memorialized during his appearance in the Republican nominee’s primary campaign commercial.
Adkins also told supporters during a campaign event in July she was “most proud” of endorsements from the Johnson and Franklin county sheriffs.
“Certainly, Sheriff Hayden,” Adkins said. “But also our Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards recently endorsed me. It really matters.”
Johanna Warshaw, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Adkins’ acceptance of the Hayden endorsement was an indication unsubstantiatied allegations of election misconduct were to be woven into her 3rd District campaign against Davids, a Democrat first elected in 2018.
“Instead of joining people on both sides of the aisle in rebuking Sheriff Hayden’s baseless, taxpayer-funded investigation, Amanda Adkins is putting his radical views front and center of her campaign,” Warshaw said. “By saying Hayden’s endorsement is the one she’s most proud of, Adkins is sending a clear message to voters that she stands with extreme MAGA Republicans, not Kansas.”
The DCCC also said Adkins has declined to acknowledge Biden’s victory or condemn election conspiracies shared by President Donald Trump and others.
The Adkins campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the Hayden endorsement.
In the 2020 general election, Davids defeated Adkins by 40,000 votes in a race that went Davids’ way 53% to 43%. Ahead of the 2022 election, the 3rd District was transformed by the Legislature to improve odds of Adkins succeeding in her second campaign for the Kansas City area seat in Congress. The GOP-led Legislature moved the upper half of Wyandotte County to the 2nd District. That left the 3rd District with the bottom half of Wyandotte County and all of Johnson, Franklin, Miami and Anderson counties.
Hayden was a speaker at a June election fraud conference in Johnson County in which he declared “everything I’m looking at is just not smelling right” in regard to voting security.
The sheriff said he approved the inquiry of potential election crimes in Johnson County based on complaints as well as his personal suspicion about a surge in Democratic Party registrations in Johnson County between 2016 and 2020. He hasn’t publicly revealed findings of the criminal probe.
The sheriff’s department said it received 200 tips related to election fraud, but KCUR reported his department produced only one offense report related to purported violations of Kansas election law since 2020.
“We’re going to continue to look at this,” Hayden promised conspiracy theorists at the conference in Johnson County. “I want nothing more than to put handcuffs on people who did this.”
The sheriff said Johnson County deputies could be assigned to bolster election security with members of his department assigned to pick up ballots from drop boxes and to be present when voter were counted.
He also raised concern about manipulation of voting machines during a Las Vegas meeting of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which has denied validity of 2020 elections and claimed sheriffs had unilateral authority to override state or federal laws viewed as unconstitutional.
In the July campaign ad for Adkins, she walks and talks with Hayden in a scene with a sheriff’s department vehicle behind them. The commercial didn’t address election fraud, but claimed Adkins could make communities safer by stopping the flow of illegal drugs. The advertisement centered on criticism of President Joe Biden and Adkins’ belief she possessed the experience to fix economic problems in the country.
“Kansans are struggling,” the voiceover says on Adkins’ commercial. “Joe Biden is failing us and Sharice Davids votes with him 100% of the time.”
In a news release regarding the Franklin County sheriff’s endorsement, Adkins said Biden’s inability to stop the influx of illegal immigrants through Mexico had allowed drugs such as fentanyl to enter the United States and threaten the welfare of Kansans. That same statement mentioned the Johnson County sheriff’s endorsement of her.
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