Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill admits extramarital affair, says he won’t seek office

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a prominent state Republican viewed as having higher political ambitions, said Wednesday that he will not run for any elected office next year because of poor choices he made that have impacted his family.

“I will not be a candidate because of choices I have made and the decisions I have made that were not in the best interest of me or my family,” Merrill, 57, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. Merrill declined to go into much detail but had told media outlet that he had an inappropriate relationship with a woman outside his marriage.

Merrill announced his decision in a statement issued from his office. The announcement ended speculation that Merrill might run for the U.S. Senate or another position next year.


In 2019, Merrill announced a run for Alabama’s other U.S. Senate seat, but dropped out after Jeff Sessions, a onetime U.S. attorney general under then-President Donald Trump, entered the field seeking to reclaim his old seat. Sessions lost a July 2020 runoff to another Republican, former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, who won the general election that November.

In his statement, Merrill said 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.”

“Life presents us with a series of chapters, some more challenging than others, in our book of life, and when one finishes, another one begins. While I remain fully committed to continuing my service as your secretary of state through the end of my term, I do not know what the next chapter will present for me and my family,” he added.


Merrill had served in the Alabama House of Representatives before being elected secretary of state in 2014.

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