Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is no stranger to pushing out Republican colleagues who are entangled in sex scandals, showing little tolerance for sexual misconduct during his over three-decade-long Washington political career.
Republican Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore currently finds himself at odds with McConnell, Republican leadership and a number of senators for reports that he sexually harassed and inappropriately touched at least a handful of young women in Alabama dating back to the 1970s.
Moore lost a steadfast lead in the polls after The Washington Post reported the sexual harassment cases. The former Alabama judge holds a slim 2 point advantage over Democratic candidate Doug Jones as of Tuesday morning.
McConnell and Republican leadership have called for Moore to withdraw his candidacy, which Moore refuses to do, claiming that the reports are merely allegations and are not yet proven. Moore could be in for a tough battle, given McConnell’s swift, often unforgiving, response to sex scandals.
As chairman of the Senate Ethic’s Committee in 1995, McConnell was at the forefront of the ousting of the 27-year Democratic Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon. The Senate Ethic’s Committee under McConnell brought forth a 10-volumes (containing 10,145 pages and weighing roughly 40 pounds) of evidence describing the former Oregon senator’s lewd acts.
“There was a habitual pattern of aggressive, blatantly sexual advances, mostly directed at members of his own staff or others whose livelihoods were connected in some way to his power and authority as a senator,” McConnell said when the committee brought forth the evidence.
Packwood resigned following the unveiling.
When McConnell was Senate minority leader in 2007, he led a campaign with Republican leadership to strip then-Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho of leadership positions on committees and sub-committees, after the senator was arrested for soliciting sexual acts in an airport bathroom.
McConnell has made it known, in Moore’s case, that he “believes” the women who claim the former Alabama judge sexually harassed them.
Moving to reject Moore from the Senate if he wins is likely a double-edge sword for McConnell and leadership. On the one hand, McConnell’s and Trump’s candidate in the Alabama Senate race–Sen. Luther Strange–failed to defeat Moore. Ousting him would give both Republican leaders a chance to start fresh.
Pushing Moore out could also infuriate the conservative base that has clung so hard to Moore and refuse, despite the allegations, to withdraw their support for the candidate. Moore has the backing of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is, notably, at odds with McConnell and is always looking to have another thing to attack the majority leader on publicly.
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