The Washington Post dropped a bombshell Thursday in the middle of Alabama’s special election campaign for U.S. Senate. The paper reported Republican candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Etowah County. The paper also says he dated three 16 to 18-year-old girls during that time. Moore denies the allegations. Political consultant David Mowery offers perspective on how this might affect Moore’s Senate race against Democrat Doug Jones.
On the significance of the report:
“I think it’s pretty big because it speaks to character for Judge Moore … and that’s sort of his brand, that he’s that guy. I don’t know yet if it’s a fatal blow. My advice right now is be cautious in thinking, ‘Oh wow, now the other guy’s going to win,’ just because of the pure partisan bent in the state is strongly, solidly Republican. And Moore jumping on it and saying it’s fake news and denying all the allegations and pushing back.”
On national Republicans’ harsher tone than state leaders:
“I think the people in the state are closer to it and are more worried about getting burned by any potential blowback either way. But I also think the people nationally, they’re saying if it’s proven true– that’s a big out. That’s a tell. How are we going to prove this is true or not? It’s a solidly reported account … I don’t know what else can come out to make it more true [or false].”
What to watch for in the final month of the campaign:
“I would watch for people either rescinding endorsements or not endorsing Moore. And I would watch for people, for Republicans maybe to endorse Jones either nationally or former officials in the state to endorse Jones signaling to other Republicans that, ‘hey, it’s ok to vote for this guy this one time because Moore is so flawed as a candidate or as a person.'”