John Merrill, Alabama Secretary of State, announced he is stepping down from reported plans to run as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2022, following news of an inappropriate relationship with a 44-year-old woman.
“With the end of my term coming up in January of 2023, I have been presented with a variety of options for where my path in public service could lead,” his statement read. “I have decided that I will not be a candidate for any office in 2022.”
The statement was released shortly after his report to AL.com that, “It’s clear that I had an inappropriate relationship with her, and it is not something that I am proud of or something that is something that — I’m very disappointed in myself.”
The secretary added, “I’m also disappointed that I allowed my family to be embarrassed by this action. And it’s something that I certainly will always regret because of the pain that it has caused my family.”
The news follows earlier speculation that the secretary would run for the open seat to help Republicans win back power in the Senate.
Merrill’s statement opens the door for other 2022 Republican contenders. Mo Brooks, currently an Alabama Congressman, has announced he plans to run for the Senate seat that will be left open by the retirement of Sen. Richard Shelby (R).
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Rep. Mo Brook. “Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks,” Trump said in the statement.
He declared Brooks “will stand up for America First no matter what obstacles the Fake News Media, RINOs, or Socialist Democrats may place in his path.”
Trump-appointed former ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard has also announced her intention to run for the open Senate seat. Her announcement video highlights her role as a “Christian conservative and business builder.”