Roy Moore's list of accusers — and enemies — is growing. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that two other women say he pursued them while they were teenage mall employees and he was in his 30s. One claims he gave her a forceful, unwanted kiss.
Moore says the charges are politically motivated.
And so the Alabama Senate GOP candidate and most of the Republican Party are in a standoff about whether Moore should get out of the race.
What happens next is anyone's guess. Here are the likeliest scenarios for what happens to Moore, ranked from least likely (6) to most likely (1).
6. Moore drops out before the Dec. 12 election: Why is this ranked least likely? Because Moore has been defiant to his core. He has tried to frame these allegations in a way that fits neatly with his campaign: It's the world vs. him.
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 13, 2017
The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal –– even inflict physical harm –– if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me. (2/4) #ALSen
— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 9, 2017
The only event that could potentially push Moore over the edge is if President Trump, who is very popular in Alabama, breaks his silence on Moore and asks him to get out of the race.
But: Even if Moore drops out, his name would stay on the ballot. All votes cast for him simply wouldn't count.
5. A new election is held: Politico reported late Wednesday that Senate Republican leaders are considering just scrapping the entire special election and rescheduling it.
They don't have the power to schedule elections in Alabama — only the governor does — but they are considering asking interim Sen. Luther Strange to resign before the Dec. 12 special election, hoping that could trigger a whole new special election. (The first would be to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the second would be to replace Strange.)
But: This has all sorts of practical and legal problems. As officials who reached out after this story originally published pointed out, a Strange resignation wouldn't trigger a new election. If Strange resigned, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has said she'd just appoint someone else to fill the seat until the Dec. 12 election. That's how the rules work in Alabama.
And even if a Strange resignation could legally trigger a new special election, The Post's congressional reporter Paul Kane pointed out it would be extremely suspect to push back an election because your party's candidate is losing.
You can't cancel an election just because you don't approve of who the victor will be. Very doubtful state or federal courts would approve. https://t.co/bm9R3pzlge
— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) November 16, 2017
4. The state party forces Moore out: Republicans in Washington may want him gone, but they can't physically make it so. The Alabama Republican Party could force Moore out.
But: They've had the opportunity and haven't done it. And forcing him out could lead to protest votes for Moore, as The Fix's Aaron Blake notes.
3. Moore stays in and another Republican candidate launches a write-in campaign: Senate Republican leaders have already ruled out Strange, whom voters twice had the chance to elect to the Senate and didn't. So they are openly asking Sessions to resign his Cabinet job and launch a last-minute write-in campaign.
But: Sessions doesn't seem interested. And there's no guarantee he'd win. Once again, Moore's name will stay on the ballot no matter what. So you need a candidate who is popular and well known so that enough voters are (a) excited to go to the polls and (b) remember how to spell that candidate's name, since they have to physically write a name in.
If Moore stays in the race, this scenario becomes even LESS likely, because Republican leaders know there are still some people who will vote for Moore, which would likely split the GOP vote and hand the seat to Democrats.
2. Moore stays in the race, and he wins or loses: It's very tough to tell right now who would win in a race between an embattled Moore or his Democratic opponent, attorney Doug Jones. Polls have been all over the place since the allegations came out, but it's clear Moore has lost ground since the accusations. Alabama political reporter Leada Gore told The Fix she feels as if Alabama voters have already decided that Moore is the lesser of two evils: a flawed Republican vs. a pro-abortion-rights Democrat who could help Democrats flip the Senate.
“I'm not sure if the rural vote, which is 99.99 percent of Alabama, would leave Moore under almost any circumstances,” Gore said.
1. Moore stays in the race, wins and the Senate expels him.
Yes, this is the likeliest option, which is crazy since the Senate hasn't successfully expelled one of its own senators since the Civil War. But it can be done. Constitutional law scholar Josh Chafetz with Cornell University said the Senate has the constitutional right to kick out anyone for whatever reason.
It's not easy, though. Undoing an election is a serious endeavor. An ethics committee must investigate the claims and find grounds to expel Moore, then two-thirds of the chamber (that means all 48 Democrats and at least 19 Republicans) must agree to kick out one of their own.
The Senate could have such an extraordinary consensus. Republican leaders in Washington have made clear that they do NOT want Moore to be part of their ranks. Here's the head of the Senate's campaign committee, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.):
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) November 13, 2017
With the glaring exception of Trump, McConnell has had a zero-tolerance policy for allegations of sexual misconduct in his party. And if Moore becomes a senator, you can bet every single one of his Republican colleagues on the ballot next year will get asked about why they are serving alongside someone who has been accused of sexual misconduct. The attack ads write themselves.
But: This whole process could take six months to a year. If Moore is kicked out, Alabama will need another special election, and we could find ourselves right back where we started. “It's the election that just won't end,” Gore said.