Amber Phillips (Washington Post/The Fix) lists The six likeliest ways this whole Roy Moore saga could end, ranked.
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). [Scriber: Following is the list sans rationale for the five least likely possibilities.]
–6- Moore drops out before the Dec. 12 election
–5- A new election is held
–4- The state party forces Moore out
–3- Moore stays in and another Republican candidate launches a write-in campaign
–2- Moore stays in the race, and he wins or loses
And that leaves the remaining scenario, #1.
–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. …
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,” [Alabama political reporter Leada] Gore said.
Greg Sargent (Washington Post/Plum Line) thinks that The GOP’s Roy Moore nightmare just got worse. It could infect the battle for the Senate. He gets to the same place as Phillips.
As I’ve argued, the most feasible way for Republicans to retain this seat is for Moore to win the race in spite of GOP demands that he quit, and for the Senate to expel him so he can be replaced via another special election. But this scenario also has major downsides for the GOP. That’s because expulsion proceedings would be uncertain and would create a major media circus next year, just as the 2018 Senate races are heating up.
Indeed, a Democrat points out to me that the Moore saga is already spilling into those races and exacerbating the ongoing GOP civil war between McConnell and Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump adviser who is championing Moore. Attention to Moore’s escapades is putting pressure on GOP candidates in some primaries to condemn him, but they are declining, apparently out of fear of alienating GOP base voters.
If Moore wins, which remains a real possibility, and circus-like expulsion proceedings begin next year, large swaths of the Trumpist GOP base may rally around Moore, intensifying the difficulties faced by GOP candidates. Democrats believe this could resonate in suburban areas, particularly among women, which will partly decide some of these contests. To be sure, this probably wouldn’t be that big a factor. But the Democrats’ smashing victories in Virginia showed that suburban and college-educated whites are energized bigly against Trumpism. And a massive Moore circus — one whose resolution isn’t even clear, since Moore might not end up getting expelled — won’t help matters for Republicans.
Which leads to a question: If Senate GOP leaders were faced with a straight-up choice between losing a Senate seat on the one side, and serving alongside accused serial teen-targeting sexual predator Moore on the other, which would they pick? I have not seen this question answered. Presumably Republicans want to preserve the seat at all costs, because losing it seriously imperils their agenda. But even as Moore is creating terrible press for the GOP, it’s unlikely he would be a reliable vote for the GOP agenda in any case. Bottom line: Right now, the real question is not whether Republicans will be stuck with Moore, but for how long they’ll be stuck with him.
I’ll close with Sargent’s locally relevant observation: “In Arizona, Rep. Martha McSally, who wants to run against Bannon-backed Kelli Ward (who has described Moore as an inspiration), is under pressure from the local press to comment on Moore, but so far she has said nothing.” No surprise there.