WASHINGTON - Alabama's senior senator, Republican Richard Shelby, said Sunday the state "deserves better" than the election of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of sexual improprieties with teenage girls four decades ago when he was in his 30s.
Shelby, in the Senate for three decades, told CNN he has already cast an absentee ballot ahead of Tuesday's special election, writing in the name of "a distinguished Republican" he declined to name.
“I’d rather see the Republican win, but I would hope that Republican would be a write-in," Shelby said.
"I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. I didn't vote for Roy Moore. I’d rather see another Republican in there, and I’m going to stay with that story," Shelby said. "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."
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Moore, accused of sexual misconduct by two women, one of whom was 14 during the time he was a local prosecutor, is locked in a tight contest with Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor. The winner will fill the remaining three years of the Senate seat once held by Jeff Sessions, who resigned to join President Donald Trump's Cabinet as attorney general, the country's top law enforcement position.
Other women say that Moore pursued them for dates when they were teenagers, but Shelby said the "tipping point" for him were allegations made by the then-14-year-old, now in her 50s. "That was enough for me," he said.
Trump on Moore
Trump in recent days has mounted a full-bore campaign for Moore, ignoring the allegations of sexual improprieties against him and the fact that he was twice deposed as an Alabama state supreme court judge for refusing to adhere to federal court rulings. Trump says Jones would be a "puppet" for the top Democratic congressional leaders, Senator Charles Schumer and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
"We can’t have a Pelosi/Schumer Liberal Democrat, Jones, in that important Alabama Senate seat," Trump said in one of several pro-Moore Twitter comments. "Need your vote to Make America Great Again! Jones will always vote against what we must do for our Country."
Trump has recorded a robocall phone conversation supporting Moore that Republicans plan to use in the state on Monday.
To no avail, numerous key Republican leaders in Washington called for Moore to end his candidacy and said they will try to expel him from the Senate if he wins Tuesday's vote.
But Dean Young, Moore's chief strategist, predicted Sunday, "Judge Moore's going to go to Washington. Judge Moore's going to win, and I highly doubt there's going to be a Senate investigation."