Alabama Senate Race Tightens As Allegations of Sexual Misconduct Surface

Roy Moore, a Republican Senate candidate best known for his controversial beliefs and tumultuous political history, was accused of sexual misconduct in a Washington Post story published on Thursday.

The report details allegations from four women, all of whom say that Moore pursed romantic or sexual relations with them when they were teenagers. These encounters took place close to 40 years ago when Moore would have been in his early thirties.

The most disturbing of the allegations comes from Leigh Corfman, who asserts that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 and he was 32. In the Washington Post story, Corfman recounts Moore driving her to his house on two separate occasions, during the second of which he undressed her and “touched her through her bra and underpants” before he “guided her hand to his underwear”. She then says she “she got dressed and asked Moore to take her home,” which he then did. Corfman’s story has been corroborated by several others including friends and an ex-boyfriend.

Of the three other women that spoke to The Post, two report engaging in some sort of romantic relationship with Moore, but say that it never went beyond hugging and kissing. The third says her mother, who remembers telling Moore that he “was too old for” her daughter, refused to let Moore date her. Teresa Jones, a former prosecutor and colleague of Moore, said that was “common knowledge that [Moore] dated high school girls.”

Moore has remained defiant since the surfacing of the allegations, and in response to Corfman’s accusations insisted that he had “never known this woman, or anything” though he did not deny dating some teenagers. He took to Twitter to defend himself, claiming that the accusations were nothing more than a “vicious and nasty round of attacks” from “the Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs.” Moore ended his series of tweets saying that he would “never give up the fight.”

All of this comes just a month before the December 12 special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore faces Democratic nominee Doug Jones after beating establishment Republican and Trump-backed candidate Luther Strange in the GOP runoff election.

In the wake of the original report, many Republicans have called on Moore to step out of the race if the allegations are true (though one might question what additional proof could be needed).

The Senate Republican campaign arm even formally ended their joint fundraising agreement with the Moore campaign on Friday. However, Moore seems beyond unlikely to drop out of the race, and the mechanisms through which Mitch McConnell and other high-ranking Republicans might have once been able to use to push Moore out of the race are no longer intact. Despite the money, energy, and party support poured into Luther Strange’s runoff campaign, Moore won by a 9-point margin, a testament to the growing public distrust of establishment politicians and Congress alike.

Republicans have scrambled to find an alternative to Moore running. According to election rules, it is too late for the party to replace Moore with another candidate, and although Republicans reportedly considered pressuring Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to push back the race, she had said she will not delay it. They are left with few options, the most likely of which would be to campaign for Strange as a write-in candidate, or to not seat Moore at all if he is elected. If elected, the Senate could choose to kick Moore out with a two-thirds majority, though that scenario seems unlikely as only fifteen senators have been ousted in Senate history.

These events have opened the door for Jones, the Democratic nominee. Before this week, Jones’s chances of winning in Alabama, a deep-red state that hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator in over 20 years, were slim. Polling now has Moore and Jones locked in a tie, both with 46 points.

It is still unclear exactly how the Alabama Senate race will play out in the wake of the allegations against Moore, but some Democrats think they may have the opportunity to turn the seat blue, leaving Republicans with only a one seat majority in the Senate.

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Lauren Mullender
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18. Undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. Enjoys coffee, cold weather, her dog, and anti-capitalism.

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