- Alabama’s most influential newspapers denounced Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and threw their support behind Democrat Doug Jones in a scathing editorial on Sunday.
- The joint editorial board said the seriousness of the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore “cannot be overstated” and called the state’s upcoming election a “turning point” for women “in a state that has silenced them for too long.”
- Several polls have shows voters’ support for Moore cratering, but he still remains a champion for many of the state’s evangelical voters.
Splashed across the front pages of Alabama’s biggest newspapers Sunday morning was a scathing editorial against Roy Moore, the former judge and Republican candidate running for the open Alabama Senate seat. It declared: “Stand for Decency, Reject Roy Moore.”
At least nine women have either said Moore pursued them when they were younger, or that he engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour with them. Most of the accusers say they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s when the alleged incidents took place.
The joint editorial board of The Alabama Media Group — which publishes The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register, and AL.com — urged voters to abandon their support for Moore, and called the accusations against him “horrifying, but not shocking.” It also endorsed Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones.
The allegations against Moore, the board wrote, portray a “man in his late 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls.”
It also criticised Alabama’s Republican establishment, most of which has stood behind and defended Moore despite the rising number of accusations against him.
The state’s Republican apparatus stands in contrast to the Republican National Committee, which pulled its financial support on Monday. Many Republican lawmakers in Congress have called for Moore to step down and for voters to cast their ballots for a write-in candidate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has disavowed Moore and suggested that Alabamians vote instead for Jeff Sessions, who is currently serving as attorney general. Sessions enjoyed immense popularity in the state before he joined President Donald Trump’s administration.
In addition to calling Alabama’s upcoming special election a turning point for women “in a state that has silenced them for too long,” the editorial also said it was a referendum on whether “we will accept this kind of behaviour from our leaders.”
The allegations against Moore first came to light after one accuser, Leigh Corfman, told The Washington Post that she was 14 years old when the then-32-year-old Moore made unwanted sexual advances toward her. Since then, several women have told similar stories of sexual misconduct. Moore has denied them all.
A ‘champion’ for the right wing
The editorial board emphasised the importance of putting Moore’s accusers and their stories before politics and partisanship, and added that the seriousness of the allegations against him “cannot be overstated.”
“How can we look our neighbours, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat?” the board wrote. “How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?”
The board also opined that Moore’s views on other issues — like religious liberty, immigration, and gay rights — disqualified him from running long before his accusers went public.
Since they started sharing their stories, Moore has seen waning support, according to several polls. On Friday, a Gravis Marketing poll had Jones leading Moore in the state by five points. Another poll, conducted by Fox News, showed Jones with an even larger lead of 8 points, or 50% to 42%. Among women, Jones led Moore by 26 points.
However, his support remains strong among Alabama’s evangelicals, many of whom see him as a man who will stand up for their beliefs on hot button issues like homosexuality, abortion, and religious freedom.
Pastor Mike Allison, who introduced Moore at a “God Save America” rally in an Alabama church this week, lauded Moore and threw his full support behind the former judge, The Associated Press reported.
“He has staunchly defended the Constitution of the United States, he has stood for the word of God … he is against the murder of the unborn by abortion,” Allison said. “He is for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. He is against a redefinition of marriage and believes firmly that it is only between a man and a woman. And he is against all threats against the traditional family.”
Allison added that Moore was a “champion” for the right wing and urged Alabamians to cast their ballots for him.
‘Alabamians have never cared about what the rest of the country thinks of them’
Moore has consistently denied the allegations against him, though he has admitted to dating younger women when he was in his 30s. He has also painted the accusations as part of a liberal smear campaign led by the “Obama-Clinton Machine.”
Those who oppose Moore because of his views and the recent allegations against him have three options, the board wrote: vote for Doug Jones, vote for a write-in candidate, or don’t vote at all. It added the caveat, however, that refusing to vote should not be a viable option, particularly because low turnout in the state’s Republican primary led to Moore winning a spot on the ballot in the first place.
The board ended its editorial by throwing its full support behind Jones, whom it described as a moderate Democrat with a religious background who would keep working class voters’ interests in mind.
It also said that Jones, as a Democrat representing a red state, would not consistently side with Senate Democrats or Republicans. It pointed to Sens. Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Jon Tester, all of whom are Democrats representing predominantly Republican states, as examples.
“Alabamians have never cared about what the rest of the country thinks of them,” the board wrote. “And we do not expect all the handwringing from national pundits, conservative or liberal, to make much of a difference.”
It continued: “A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse: ‘if you ever do tell your story, Alabama won’t believe you.’ Or, worse, we’ll believe you but we just won’t care.”
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