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Alabama Secretary of State rules out 2022 Senate bid after admitting to extramarital relationship

Alabama Secretary of State rules out 2022 Senate bid after admitting to extramarital relationship
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Alabama Secretary State John Merrill (R) ruled out a 2022 Senate bid on Wednesday after admitting to having an “inappropriate relationship” with a woman who was not his wife.

Merrill said in a statement on Wednesday that he will “not be a candidate for any office in 2022.”

Merrill was largely thought to join the field of candidates looking to replace Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Senate GOP opens door to earmarks Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal MORE (R-Ala.), who is retiring at the end of his term. His campaign website already indicated that he was running for the open seat.

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Also running is Lynda Blanchard, who was former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Race debate grips Congress US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities' sustainability efforts MORE’s ambassador to Slovenia, and Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (R-Ala.). Trump endorsed Brooks on Wednesday.

“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. After much prayer, reflection, and conversations with my wife, Cindy, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for any office in 2022,” he said.

Merrill said that he intends to finish his term as Secretary of State, which ends in January 2023, and said he is “incredibly humbled” by the support he has received from the state and is proud of what he has accomplished over the past six years.

Merrill admitted to having the relationship with Cesaire McPherson, a former legal analyst, in an interview with Al.com on Wednesday.

This comes a day after right-wing news site the National File published McPherson's allegations. She alleged the relationship went on from July 2019 to November 2020.

Merrill initially denied the allegations, according to the Alabama Political Reporter. He instead claimed that he began communicating with her, but cut off communication after her intentions were “bordering on obsession.” 

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He then alleged that McPherson threatened to tell lies “about my marital life if I did not keep talking to her,” according to the news outlet

Merrill made the reversal on Wednesday after Al.com played him a portion of a phone call that McPherson provided detailing past sexual encounters.

“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. I’m also disappointed that I allowed my family to be embarrassed by this action,” he told Al.com.