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Alabama’s secretary of state ruled out a 2022 US Senate bid after admitting he had an affair with a legal assistant — who released racy texts and a recording of a phone call describing their illicit trysts.
Republican John Merrill, 57, a married dad of two, had initially denied the relationship as a bogus claim designed to end his bid for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s seat.
“People are attempting to use this to either advance the candidacy of other people, or they are doing it primarily to harm me and my family,” he said Tuesday in a radio interview. “It’s very frustrating and very sad.”
Then on Wednesday, AL.com confronted the pol with a 17-minute recording in which he and the woman, Cesaire McPherson, discussed various sexual acts they performed during dozens of romantic encounters.
McPherson, 44, told the outlet she and Merrill had a three-year affair that he ended in November 2020.
During their October 2020 conversation, Merrill was already trying to break off the relationship — and said he was seeking help from God to stay away from McPherson, the report said.
“I am not able to stay away from you, so that’s the reason why I have to have help in order to do that … the help is coming from the Lord,” Merrill said.
The woman asked: “So, the last time that we had sex, that’s the last time ever?”
“It’s supposed to be the last time ever,” Merrill replied. “It should be the last time ever.”
McPherson first came forward with her allegations on Tuesday, providing the right-wing blog National File with dirty texts that she said Merrill sent her. She also accused him of being racist.
In first denying the allegations, Merrill had accused McPherson of “stalking” and “harassing” him.
But when shown the recording, he fessed up, saying, “It’s clear that I had an inappropriate relationship with her, and it is not something that I am proud of.”
“I’m very disappointed in myself. I’m also disappointed that I allowed my family to be embarrassed by this action,” he said. “And it’s something that I certainly will always regret because of the pain that it has caused my family.”
On Wednesday, 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.”
Merrill was first elected secretary of state in 2014 following a stint in the Alabama House of Representatives. He handily won re-election in 2018 but is term-limited out.
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