Human Rights

Alabama’s Other GOP Senator on Roy Moore: 'The Republican Party Can Do Better'

'I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore,' Sen. Richard Shelby said on Sunday.

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Most Republican leaders in Alabama say they plan to vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday, but Alabama's senior senator said Sunday that he didn't vote for the GOP candidate in the Senate special election.

“I didn't vote for Roy Moore,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., told CNN's Jake Tapper. “I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”

Serious sexual misconduct allegations against the former judge have done little to depress his standings in the poll ahead of Tuesday’s special election. Moore,  a twice-removed former Alabama chief judge, holds a 3.8 percentage point lead over Democrat Doug Jones, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average of the race.

Moore has been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenagers when he was a thirtysomething district attorney.

Shelby said on “State of the Union” that he believes the women.

"A lot of smoke, there's got to be some fire there," Shelby said, noting that former Alabama senator Jeff Sessions said has also said he had no reason to doubt Moore's accusers.

"(W)e call it a tipping point," Shelby added. "I think, so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip, drip -- when it got to the 14-year-old's story, that was enough for me," he said. Leigh Corfman told The Washington Post that Moore touched her sexually when she was 14.

Shelby encouraged Alabama voters to do as he did on his absentee ballot: write in the name of another Republican. Shelby said late last month that he didn't vote for Moore, but instead wrote in a "distinguished Republican."

"I’d rather see another Republican in there and I’m going to stay with that story. I'm not going to vote for the Democrat, I didn’t vote for the Democrat or advocate for the Democrat. But I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore." 

Shelby added: "The state of Alabama deserves better.”  

 

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's deputy politics editor. Find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.