Alabama secretary of state announces Senate bid

Alabama secretary of state announces Senate bid
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Alamaba Secretary of State John Merrill will challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D) in 2020, joining Jones’ 2017 opponent Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run MORE and several other Republicans in the Republican field, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

“All too often in the past, we have continued to nominate Republicans who are not proven conservatives, who are put in positions where they’re not willing to stand up and not do what’s necessary to take a stand and hold their ground and with that foundational assignment, lead us forward to do what we need to do,” Merrill said in his announcement speech Tuesday.

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Along with Moore, the Republican field includes Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneSessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows Israeli, Palestinian business leaders seek Trump boost for investment project Sessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement MORE, state Rep. Arnold Mooney and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Merrill said that he will continue to serve as secretary of state while seeking the nomination, according to the Advertiser.

Merrill denied any impropriety in continuing to oversee elections while seeking office, saying “If it were not for free and fair elections in the state of Alabama, Doug Jones would not have been in the United States Senate.”

Merrill has served as secretary of state since 2014 and was re-elected in November, according to the Advertiser. He and Moore, who previously served as chief justice of the state supreme court, are the only Republican candidates who have won statewide races.

In his announcement speech, Merrill pledged to look to senior Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyLawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown McConnell accuses Democrats of stonewalling funding talks with wall demands  On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday MORE (R) for guidance and “put Alabama first.”

“We want to make sure we are holding harmless the business and people of Alabama when we have the opportunity to make sure we are doing everything we can in support of the president,” he said.

Merrill’s announcement follows that of Moore, who was narrowly defeated in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct from several women, some of whom were underage at the time of the alleged incidents. Moore has denied all the allegations.

Numerous Republican figures, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE and his eldest son Don Jr., have blasted his decision to run again, claiming it could hand a re-election victory to Jones, considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the 2020 cycle.