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John Merrill on possible 2022 U.S. Senate run: ‘We’ll make a formal announcement the first or second week of April’

Last week’s announcement by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) not to seek reelection in 2022 was not a huge surprise to many political watchers.

However, it has triggered speculation as to who might seek to fill that vacancy. Among the names mentioned as possible candidates on the Republican side include U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

During an appearance on Friday’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Merrill addressed the speculation, first by acknowledging the big role one might have in replacing Shelby.

“Well look, it’s something that we’re certainly considering,” he said. “And I will say I’ve been notified by a lot of people all across the state — as a matter of fact well more than a hundred people reached out the day Senator Shelby announced his intentions to retire, and they were from more than 20 counties around the state. So, I was very excited to receive that much support from friends and folks that want to let me know they were interested in me offering myself in this capacity as a potential candidate for the 2022 election cycle. The thing that I think we have got to have, Don, in the person that fills Senator Shelby’s shoes is a proven effective conservative leader — an individual who has distinguished himself or herself in a way that has separated themselves from other people in our state who may be considering this, or offering themselves a candidate.”

Host Don Dailey asked Merrill about other possible contenders, including Brooks on the GOP side and former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) on the Democratic side.

“Of course, Congressman Brooks has received a lot of national attention recently because of what happened in Washington on January 6,” Merrill continued. “Congressman Brooks is a controversial figure, and he is not afraid to step into the fray. He is not afraid to be known as a controversial figure. He would be a very formidable candidate if he chooses to enter the race. Of course, Senator Jones, just coming off the defeat from Senator Tuberville, I think would be more reluctant to consider a race simply because he was battered and bruised because of what happened in the 2020 cycle. But we’ll have to wait and see what they choose to do.”

Merrill said to expect a formal announcement in April after being asked if he would seriously consider a 2022 Senate bid.

“We certainly are,” he replied. “And we’ll make a formal announcement the first or second week of April as we move forward after we have had time to evaluate where we are and the kind of support we would receive across the state, and as we attempt to put a team together and see if that is the direction we need to go. We certainly will make it public and you can rest assured you won’t be the last one to know.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.