WASHINGTON — New allegations against GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore rocked Washington yesterday, costing him nearly all support from Republican lawmakers and causing some to openly call for Moore to be stripped of his seat if he wins the election.
But the Alabama Republican, who was favored to easily win before allegations of sexual contact with a minor and several other girls surfaced last week, still poses a political conundrum to Senate Republicans regardless of whether they supported him before the allegations.
Just to be clear. If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat https://t.co/Ec96HRt228
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 13, 2017
They need Moore to win the election to keep their slim, but consequential, majority in Congress’ upper chamber. But that victory would be fleeting. Lawmakers, most of whom renounced support for Moore yesterday, would then be forced to try to expel Moore and replace him with another Republican, rather than embrace a man accused of sexually preying on minors for the sake of party unity.
Even if that extraordinary move is successful — no sitting senator has been expelled since the Civil War — the backlash from vocal Moore supporter Steve Bannon and other members of that wing of the Republican Party would cause its internal divisions to burst into an all-out civil war. If scoring legislative victories was difficult with such a slim margin before, it would become nearly impossible.
If Moore loses the election, the Republicans’ two-seat majority in the Senate would be cut in half. Some in the party see that as the best-case scenario.
“If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat,” Arizona U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake tweeted moments after making similar comments to reporters on Capitol Hill.
Flake and a number of other GOP senators, including the head of the Senate GOP campaign arm, Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, back expulsion. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose seat Moore is seeking to fill, along with U.S. Sen. Luther Strange and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, both of whom Moore beat in the primary, are all being floated as potential replacements.
The dramatic shift came after Beverly Young Nelson yesterday alleged that when she was 16, Moore offered her a ride home, but locked the car door when she tried to exit. She claimed Moore then groped her breasts and attempted to force her to perform a sex act on him.
“At some point, he gave up. And he then looked at me, and he told me — he said, ‘You’re just a child.’ And he said, ‘I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you.’ ”
Nelson said she knew Moore because he frequented the restaurant where she worked, and even signed her yearbook: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”
Moore denied the allegations to reporters last night.
“This is absolutely false,” Moore said. “I never did what she said I did. I don’t even know the woman.”
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