Republican voters in Alabama are caught in a quandary. A story in the Washington Post had accused Judge Roy Moore of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year old girl in the late 1970s when he was 32. The accusation, nearly 40 years later, is almost impossible to prove or disprove. However, in the wake of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bill O’Reilly, the last thing a politician needs is an allegation of a sordid sexual encounter with a child that is not only immoral but illegal under Alabama state law. The accusation at the very least follows the old principle that was once expressed by Lyndon Johnson.

Moore is forced to deny it, keeping the story in the public eye.

The case for Alabamans staying with Moore

Erick Erickson, a conservative commentator, who would not vote for Moore, expressed sympathy with the people of Alabama who are faced with voting either with an alleged child molester or a Democrat, Doug Jones. The left, in Erickson’s view, has been so relentless in waging a culture war against traditional conservatives, in fact demonizing them as evil that he would understand if they elected Moore anyway. Moore is currently happily married, and no one has come forward with current accusations of sexual misconduct. Alabamans may decide that either the Washington Post is inflicting fake news on Moore or that he has repented of youthful indiscretions and vote for him anyway.

The case for Roy Moore stepping aside

On the other hand, a case can be made for Moore concluding that the cause of keeping the Senate seat in the Republican column is bigger than one man and deciding to step aside. To be sure, current law in Alabama would keep Moore’s name on the ballot. But the Republican governor could call the state legislature into special session and change the law, allowing Moore’s name to be replaced with someone who is just as conservative but is not tainted.

Democrats would howl in outrage. However, they would have only themselves to blame. When Senator Frank Torricelli was forced to withdraw from a senate race in New Jersey in 2002, apparently throwing the contest to his Republican opponent, the state Supreme Court ruled that he could be replaced despite a state law stating otherwise.

New Jersey Democrats duly selected Frank Lautenberg who went on to victory.

Noting Judge Moore’s reputation for stubbornness, he is unlikely to step aside. The gambit might work if he can convince enough people that he has been the victim of a media hit job. The supposition has the virtue of possibly being true.