WASHINGTON ― Democrats are seizing on the controversy surrounding Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in state and local races around the country, attacking GOP opponents over their stance regarding the former judge, who has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate advances by multiple women.
A sixth woman came forward Wednesday and accused Moore of sexual harassment, just a week after four women said the former Alabama supreme court justice, who is now 70, pursued them when they were teens and he was a 32-year-old district attorney. One woman said Moore sexually assaulted her when she was just 14 years old.
Moore has denied all of the allegations, and Alabama Republicans continue to stand behind him. Most Republican lawmakers in Washington, however, have said the stories sound credible and that Moore hasn’t mounted a convincing defense.
GOP leaders are so desperate to keep Moore out, they’re exploring the idea of a last-minute write-in campaign for another Republican candidate — possibly Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who previously held the seat.
Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, told reporters this week that he would probably vote for a write-in candidate in the Dec. 12 special election, adding that he was “absolutely” worried about Moore damaging the GOP brand.
In states outside of Alabama, meanwhile, Democrats are targeting Republican candidates on the ballot who have stayed silent on Moore or who have failed to sufficiently denounce him.
American Bridge, a progressive super PAC, launched digital ads this week calling out Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who is running for Senate in the Grand Canyon State, and Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel for failing to condemn Moore’s actions. The group also launched an ad hitting Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP senators facing re-election next year, for what it called Heller’s “cowardly silence” on Moore.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, a group dedicated to advancing GOP Senate campaigns, officially dropped Moore from a joint fundraising agreement with the PAC last week. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), the NRSC chairman, also said the Senate should vote to expel Moore should he win the race.
Democrats have similarly gone after Republican Senate candidates in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Michigan for failing to denounce Moore quickly enough, including Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Luke Messer (R-Ind.), and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.).
In the Texas Senate race, Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke fundraised off Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) initial refusal to un-endorse Moore’s campaign. Cruz has since pulled his endorsement of Moore.
“I am not able to urge the people of Alabama to support his candidacy so long as these allegations remain un-refuted,” Cruz said in a statement.
The allegations that have rocked Moore’s campaign have also made an appearance in congressional and local races.
A Democrat running in the special election to replace Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who resigned last month after allegedly asking a woman to have an abortion, accused the GOP candidate for the seat of being no different than Roy Moore.
“Today the Republican Party selected State Representative Rick Saccone — Pennsylvania’s version of Roy Moore ― as their candidate to replace disgraced GOP Congressman Tim Murphy,” a consultant for the Democrat, Pam Iovino, said in a campaign email.
And in Tennessee, a Republican state lawmaker who is running to succeed Blackburn was put on the defensive over his ties to and support for Moore. The lawmaker, state Sen. Mark Green, appeared at a rally for Moore in September and posted a photo of himself to Twitter and Facebook with the Alabama Republican. His caption read, “Proud to call him a friend!”
Both social media posts were deleted after the allegations against Moore surfaced, according to the Nashville Post.
Democrats will likely have to grapple with allegations of sexual harassment against a lawmaker in their own midst, too. On Thursday, a woman came forward and accused Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of kissing and groping her without her consent during a USO tour in December 2006.