The Washington Post broke yet another huge sex scandal story this week, and this one could have damning implications for the Republican majority on Capitol Hill. The story goes that Alabama’s Roy Moore, who is in a race for the Senate, had (somewhat) sexual trysts with a series of teenagers back in the late 1970s. The veracity of these allegations is up for debate, but when we’re sitting in a climate of “Bring down every man who ever looked the wrong way at a woman” combined with a climate of “everyone even vaguely associated with Donald Trump must be destroyed,” it’s no surprise that Moore is being treated with a presumption of guilt.
As for Moore, he is vehemently denying the reports that he behaved inappropriately with a 14-year-old girl in 1979. Calling the reports “the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation,” the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice is fighting back against the allegations with both barrels. In a Thursday statement from the campaign, Moore categorically dismissed the women accusing him of misconduct.
“Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake,” the campaign said. “After over 40 years of public service, if any of these allegations were true, they would have been made public long before now.”
The campaign went further, actually sending out donation emails to supporters on the back of the story. “The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced,” Moore wrote. He said he needed “God-fearing conservatives like you to stand with me at this critical moment.”
Unfortunately, the conservatives in the Republican Party in Washington – or at least those men pretending to be so for the sake of their careers – are abandoning Moore in droves, encouraging him to drop out of the race. It’s too late for Moore’s name to be removed from the ballot, however, so there’s talk of running Luther Strange as a write-in candidate, as though that would not mean certain victory for the Democrats. It’s puzzling, at first, to see Republicans turning on one of their own after a single story from 40 years ago, but it becomes a little more clear when you see the names – McCain, Flake, Collins, McConnell. These people would rather lose the GOP majority altogether than support a guy like Moore – and that’s with or without these allegations hanging over his head.
Can Moore overcome this onslaught to win the seat? Will he, like Trump before him, have to combat both the Republican establishment AND the Democrats to pull off a win? These are the questions that will soon be answered, because there’s no indication that Moore will succumb to the pressure and drop out of the race.