The National GOP Is Considering Strategies to Get Rid of Roy Moore
At a Veterans’ Day event this morning, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore again denied claims that he had been sexually involved with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his early thirties, and reiterated that he will not step down from his Alabama race against Democrat Doug Jones. But since the allegations were reported on Thursday by the Washington Post, the national Republican Party has been working to block his path to the Senate.
That began with the withdrawal of a funding agreement between Moore’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But according to a Friday report in the New York Times, the maneuvering goes much deeper than that.
Alabama’s Secretary of State has said that there is no legal route for the Republican Party to unilaterally remove Moore from the ballot, or replace him as the Republican nominee. Instead, the Times reports that Republicans are mulling a write-in campaign for Moore’s Republican primary opponent, Luther Strange. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly already spoken with Strange about the idea, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who won re-election in a 2010 write-in campaign, is set to speak to him this weekend.
Get CEO Daily, Fortune’s newsletter for leaders.
Republicans are also considering alternate write-in candidates, as well as riskier legal tactics to remove Moore from the ballot. That could include asking Alabama’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, to delay the December 12th election, giving the party time to replace him. That move, though, could risk violating state or federal election laws, in addition to further fracturing the Republican party.
Despite such discussions, and the unwinding of some financial ties between Moore and the national GOP, Federal Election Commission records show that the Republican National Committee and the Alabama Republican Party remain signatories to Moore’s joint fundraising committee. Two sitting Republicans, Maryland Representative Andy Harris and Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, also remain minor financial backers of Moore’s campaign.
Opposition to Moore from the national Republican Party began long before this week’s allegations. President Trump endorsed Strange in early August, and mainstream GOP funders including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce refused to support Moore after his primary victory. Both business voices and Moore’s Democratic opponent have said the former judge’s extreme views, particularly on LGBT rights, could harm Alabama’s already battered economy.
Now, Moore represents an even more imminent risk. If he loses his race, which polls now show is tied, Republicans will be left with a razor-thin majority of only 51 seats in the Senate. If he wins, they will be tainted by an alleged pedophile in their ranks.