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Republican’s Roy Moore Problem Just Got Way Worse

Before today, Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy was going to be a major problem given his long record of saying incredibly controversial things. But that doesn’t even come close to describing the problems that Moore now poses to Senate Republicans.

Following the Washington Post bombshell report on allegations by four women that he pursued sexual relationship with them when they were between 14 and 18 and he was in his early thirties, several prominent Republicans publicly called on Moore to step down.

“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

That sentiment was echoed by virtually every GOP senator who was willing to answer questions about the Moore story.

“The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of,” Sen. John McCain tweeted, without even an “if true” caveat.

But Moore says he’s not going anywhere. He denies the allegations, painting it as an attempt by the national Democratic Party —and, somehow, the Post— to discredit his frontrunning candidacy before his December 12 special election faceoff against Doug Jones.

The problem for Senate Republicans, however, is that they overwhelmingly chose Sen. Luther Strange over Moore in the GOP race to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ unexpired term and have next-to-no leverage on Moore. He won without them.

But, more broadly: It appears that Moore is going to dig in and fight — as evidenced by a four-tweet follow-up Thursday evening, which he ended with: “I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!”

What Senate Republicans are doing right now is crossing their fingers and hoping Moore gets out of the race as soon as possible. If he doesn’t, he puts the party in a very, very bad place.

McConnell isn’t likely to simply dial up Moore and tell him he needs to either find a way to definitively prove these allegations are false or get out of the race. That communication channel just isn’t open.

That doesn’t mean the Republican Party has no power here. According to the Alabama Secretary of State, Moore’s nomination can be withdrawn either by the candidate (which seems unlikely) or the state party. It isn’t clear how the state party would go about doing that, however, but if they could make it happen, Moore’s votes would be invalidated even if he won.

There appears to be no way that Moore’s name could be replaced on the ballot, meaning that any attempt to keep the seat in their hands would require a write-in campaign.

Every second Moore stays in the race without a VERY convincing explanation for why these four women flat-out wrong is a bad thing for Republicans.

Losing the Alabama seat — Jones, if he won, would hold it only until Sessions’ term expires in 2020 — would make it harder for Republicans to get any of the Trump agenda passed. There’s no question about that.

One more wrinkle: Allowing Moore to remain as the Republican nominee, and maybe even a senator, would do far more lasting damage to the Republican brand amid these allegations.

So, either way, Republicans are screwed.

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