John Merrill has won the Republican nomination for Secretary of State after a highly contested primary and runoff against Reese McKinney.

Following his narrow victory, Merrill was excited to move on to the next step.

“We’re excited that we will be able to bring our conservative minded reform to this state,” he said.

Merrill, born in Heflin and now a resident of Tuscaloosa, is no stranger to state politics. In 2010, he was elected to the House of Representatives where he has served ever since.

Prior to his foray into state politics, Merrill worked in the private sector at Randall Publishing Company, Tuscaloosa Industrial Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.

Merrill also graduated from the University of Alabama where he began his political career as the President of the Student Government Association.

Going into the general election in November, Merrill said the game-plan will not change in their approach to reach out to voters around the state.

“We are obviously going to keep spreading our message to all corners of the state and all 67 counties in Alabama,” he said.

McKinney, a Montgomery native who has served as probate judge for Montgomery County since 1998, ran on a platform of experience, highlighting his years of public service.

McKinney said that after the election, he stands by the voters’ decision after electing Merrill for Secretary of State.

I’m happy for the state,” he said. “They made their decision and I will support the state of Alabama when he takes office and anything I can do to help him, I gladly will do.”

McKinney has served on the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee, the Montgomery County Republican Club, and the Montgomery County Republican Executive Committee. He also was is also chairman for the Alabama Republican Party’s second congressional district. Now that the election is over, McKinney said he wants to slow down and take a break.

“I'm going to catch up with my family and spend time with my grandchildren and enjoy a few days off,” he said.

McKinney began his public service career in 1978 when he served as administrative assistant to Montgomery Mayor Emory Folmar until becoming probate judge. After a lengthy career, he said his next step is still yet to be determined.

“We will see what the future holds and go from there,” he said.

Merrill will face Democrat Lula Albert-Kaigler in the general election in November.

Staff Writer Ryan Phillips: 256-235-3553. On Twitter @rphillips_Star.