MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said Friday that she plans to vote for embattled GOP nominee Roy Moore for Senate, even as she said she has “no reason to disbelieve” the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Ivey made her comments on the same day that Moore’s wife Kayla Moore said that her husband would not bow out of the contest, despite Senate Republican leaders vigorously urging him to do so.
By day’s end, it appeared increasingly that the effort by Senate GOP leaders to force Moore out of the race or rally the party behind an alternative contender was gaining little, if any, traction.
“I will cast my ballot on December the 12,” Ivey told reporters. “And I do believe that the nominee of the party is the one I will vote for.”
She attributed her decision to a desire to preserve the advantage Republicans hold over Democrats in the Senate, which has enabled them to advance key judicial nominations and other elements of the GOP agenda.
“We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on the things like Supreme Court justices,” Ivey said.
Republicans hold a 52-48 Senate majority.
Ivey said she saw “no reason” to move the date of the election, a possibility some have raised as a last-gasp try by party leaders to prevent Moore from being elected.
Ivey became governor this year following the resignation of Robert Bentley, also a Republican. Ivey faces an election of her own in 2018.
Moore has been accused by two women of initiating unwanted sexual encounters when he was in his 30s and they were 14 and 16. Moore has denied the allegations. Other women have said he pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Asked about the allegations, Ivey responded, “I certainly have no reason to disbelieve any of them.” But, she questioned the timing of them, calling it: “a little curious.”
On the whole, prominent Alabama Republican officials and organizations, including the state party, have stood by Moore. The rare exception: The Greater Birmingham Young Republicans, who have pulled their support.
Speaking on the steps of the state Capitol here before several dozen women, and after several previous speakers, Kayla Moore definitively said her husband would not bow out of the contest.
“He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,” she said.
Kayla Moore thanked backers for their support. And she apologized for not being able to reply to all the well-wishers.
“Most of the negative has been from out of state . . . The people of Alabama know what is going on here,” she said.
Democratic nominee Doug Jones, who campaigned in the southeastern part of the state on Friday, criticized Ivey’s justification for supporting Moore.
“I think it’s pretty sad that anybody would put partisan politics over the good of the state and the good of the country,” said Jones.
Some public and private polls released this week have shown Jones with a lead.
Sullivan reported from Dothan, Ala.