WASHINGTON — Nov 14, 2017, 5:51 PM ET

AP Explains: Can GOP keep Roy Moore out of the Senate?

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Senate Republicans face a limited, unappealing set of options in responding to Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore, who is caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct decades ago with minors. The election is already underway, with absentee ballots being mailed in with Moore's name on them. If he were to win, there's no precedent in the Senate for refusing to seat him. The options:

WRITE-IN

One option under consideration would be for Republicans in Alabama to abandon Moore in the Dec. 12 contest and rally around a write-in candidate, perhaps Sen. Luther Strange, who lost to Moore in the primary in September, or even Jeff Sessions, the U.S. attorney general. Sessions, who held the seat until his confirmation earlier this year, is still popular in Alabama. Still, such a candidacy would be an uphill slog, particularly if Moore remains defiant and pulls a sizable vote from his impassioned base of evangelical supporters.

With Moore on the ballot, he could siphon votes away from any write-in Republican, potentially swinging the race to Democrat Doug Jones. A Jones victory would narrow the margin of control in the GOP-controlled Senate to 51-49. That's an outcome Republicans are anxious to avoid.

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EXPULSION

Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Senate GOP's campaign committee, said Monday that if Moore were to win the election, the Senate might move to expel him, a dramatic step that hasn't been taken since the Civil War. In that case, GOP Gov. Kay Ivey would appoint another interim senator.

The U.S. Constitution says both the House and Senate have the power to "punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member." The Senate has expelled 15 of its members, 14 of whom were supporters of the Confederacy, and hasn't expelled anyone since 1862. More recently, members such as Bob Packwood, the Oregon Republican who faced charges of sexual misconduct and abuse of power, have resigned rather than face expulsion.

In theory, expulsion offers a longshot path for establishment Republicans to reclaim the seat. But Moore would have to win in the first place and do so in the face of a potential write-in candidacy and opposition from state and national Republicans.

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  • pfon71361

    By any measure, this situation is a public relations disaster for the Republicans. If Roy Moore continues to pursue his goal of winning a US Senate seat and this serious allegation is determined to be true, he deeply embarrasses his prospective Senate colleagues. Even If he does drop out of the race his name might still remain on the special election ballot providing an unwanted distraction to the GOP amid their tax reform effort. In either circumstance, for the GOP Senate, it would be very much a case of Moore being decidedly less.

  • Red Hawk

    RNC has pulled the plug on Moore's campaign funding, but I'm sure Bannon could call Rob Mercer up

  • travis Dejesus

    The Senate or House should be happy to receive another person identical to themselves in every way!

  • Kobrakai7272

    Here's the thing. If Republicans were actually as horrified by the idea of this specimen serving in the Senate with them as they claim, they would announce a write-in candidate immediately... and, if that candidate only siphoned enough votes to throw the election to the Democratic, that would an outcome they would love because it would preclude Roy Moore from joining the Senate. Of course, if this was all just lip service and, in reality, they'd be happy to serve with a child molester as long as he had an R next to his name, well, they'd probably be doing exactly what they are doing now: a lot of talking while taking no action whatsoever.

  • Kobrakai7272

    You will notice that all of the "woe is me" stuff is coming from Republicans. It would seem that they have no interest in serving next to this specimen in a very nearly equally divided Senate. He is only going to make it harder for them to accomplish anything over the next year (at which point they will lose their majority anyway).

  • Dave

    There is much more likely option: GOP senators feign disgust and let Moore get elected, then after a few weeks when most people have forgotten who Moore is, it will be business as usual again. I doubt this would affect their 2018 elections much, and if it does they'll just make some more public statements but not actually take any action against Moore.

  • EnjoyingTheView

    I cannot believe that so many self-righteous GOP members seem to have NO PROBLEM with a lying, Sick, Pedophile, but shudder at the thought of an HONEST Democrat who actually brought the despicable White supremacist bomber of the Birmingham Church murders of four black girls to JUSTICE!
    The GOP has sunk to a NEW LOW! This is even MORE despicable than their callous disregard of the unforgivable CRIMES of our proud PU$$& grabber-In-Chief ! Only a tiny handful of Republicans have the balls to call Roy Moore out for being a disgusting Pedophile !!

  • Alex

    The voters will elect him and the senate will do nothing. The voters don't care about sexual assault and the senate is craven.

  • John Galt

    Getting Moore into the Senate will be one of Trump's greatest accomplishments, after all its not easy getting someone with Moore's credentials elected. How many Senators can claim they were able to date teenage girls aged 15 to 19 when they were between 32 and 33 years old?

  • John Galt

    They left off third option to leave an accused child molester and and sexual assaulter as a voting member or the GOP Senate. Based on what I've seen come out of Alabama, the third might be the only option.

  • arriba65

    I suspect Trump may lean on Moore to drop out.

  • BLW51

    The GOP to Moore, " Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into.".

  • grampazero

    Moore supporters love to use the "presumption of innocence" argument. Guess what? This isn't a courtroom- it's a political contest. People have as much right to oppose this guy being elected as they do to keep him away from their 14-year-old daughter.

  • Nathan Broussard

    I guess that things could are going to get bad, if the people of Alabama decide to stand behind Moore and give him their vote, after all, it is their choice, then they have another option on the state level, do party leaders in the state republican ranks remove him from the party then if they do the state attorney general will declare they election null and void. If they do that then entire state of Alabama will probably erupt. This leads to another question so far this is all been rumors so far that he has not been formally charged with any crimes. All sides are weighing on this very heavily. The question I wonder is why does it happen at this time with in thirty days of an electoral cycle and why not over the last forty years.

  • jake

    We'll see if Alabama has progressed any since the 1963 inaugural address by their newly elected governor that stated "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever". George Wallace was elected by the Alabama voters for 4 terms as governor of Alabama. Moore looks like a 21st century version of Wallace.

  • unusual

    The worst thing about this is that the GOP is not against Moore because he is a perverted sleazebag - their concern is that they are going to lose a Senate seat. Sad

  • Rascal262

    The nation is watching to see if Moore truly represents the values of the Alabama voter.

  • Paulie

    This sure would be a great time for yet another Hillary deflection! QUICK - look over there!

  • PeterFromDuluth

    Weinstein really appreciates Moore's epic effort getting attention away.

  • Ash Williams

    Hopefully he won't be elected. I'm doing my part and voting Doug Jones.

  • 40words

    Roy Moore & Donald Trump, the ugly face of the GOP in 2017.

  • anastasiabeaverhousen

    The interpretation I keep hearing from the Right that Moore is the victim of a Liberal witch hunt ignore the fact that it's the GOP which has an interest in bringing him down. The opposition stands to benefit from him being the candidate to beat.

  • Puddin' Twain

    Sorry, GOP, this is the bed you made, now lie in it.