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At the Races: Moore Problems for GOP Ahead of 2018

GOP leaders struggles with Moore, and Northeastern Republicans face tough tax vote

Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore holds his book titled “Abuse of Power” about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision at a county GOP meeting in Valley, Ala., back in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore holds his book titled “Abuse of Power” about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision at a county GOP meeting in Valley, Ala., back in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Keep track of House and Senate races with At the Races! If you want to receive this weekly newsletter, make sure to sign up *here.* And we want to hear from you! Send us an email at with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week…  More women accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, Republicans tried to figure out what to do about it, and some vulnerable members faced a tough choice on taxes. Here’s what happened At the Races:

Starting Gate 

Moore Problems: Allegations of sexual misconduct have upended the Alabama Senate race with GOP candidate Roy Moore accused of sexual assault, and sexual and romantic advances toward teenage girls when he was in his thirties. (Moore has denied any wrongdoing.) 

Moore isn’t going anywhere, despite GOP leaders calling on him to step aside and national party committees cutting ties with the campaign

Senate Republicans acknowledge they don’t have many options to block Moore from the Senate, but they could look to expel him should he be elected (more on that here).

A number of Republicans in the Yellowhammer State are standing by Moore. The state GOP steering committee met Wednesday night, but did not take action to disqualify Moore as the nominee. No members of the delegation have rescinded their endorsements. Why?

“Roy Moore will vote right; that’s why I’m voting for Roy Moore,” GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who had backed Moore, explained

*BOOKMARK* Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct Thursday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for an Ethics Committee investigation. Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem on the Hill. Bookmark CQ reporter Erin Bacon’s deep dive on the issue, which includes a wealth of data from a congressional staff survey.

Do or Die? Pass a tax overhaul or wave the House majority goodbye — that’s the ultimatum GOP leaders have been issuing all fall. But some of the conference’s most vulnerable members are the ones against the plan. And they know Democrats are going to attack them for it, even if they vote no. “This is basically an unforced error,” New York Rep. Peter T. Kingsaid Wednesday. “We could end up losing all the members in the Northeast.”

Mountain State Mementos: As the West Virginia GOP chairman, Conrad Lucas has spent the last five years advising candidates. Now he’s one of them. “I hear my old self yelling at my new self all the time,” Lucas said. Trump took 73 percent of the vote in the 3rd District, and this Vanderbilt, Tulane, Harvard and Sorbonne-educated lawyer isn’t straying from the president.

He’s hoping to replace fellow Huntington resident GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins, who’s running for Senate. Jenkins trailed Attorney General Patrick Morrisey 40 percent to 34 percent in a poll released this week that was commissioned by a pro-Morrisey super PAC

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, the DCCC Likes You! The DCCC named its first 11 candidates to its Red to Blue program this week, including 10 recruits in competitive GOP-held seats and one in an open seat held by a Democrat (“blue to blue”?)

The Count: 5

That’s how many days it took for the RNC to cut ties with the Moore campaign after The Washington Post published the first allegations against him. (The NRSC severed ties one day after the story broke.) The two committees serve different constituencies but share the same goal of growing the party. The Moore example shows how that alliance has been complicated in the Trump era.

Nathan’s Notes 

“This is no longer a normal election.” Inside Elections’ Nathan L. Gonzales moved the Alabama Senate race from Likely Republican to Toss-up following the Moore allegations. Here’s why.

Candidate Confessions

Leslie Cockburn is a proud member of the liberal media elite. The Emmy-Award-winning producer has traveled the world working for “60 Minutes” and “Frontline.” She’s dined with Saddam Hussein’s sons (lots of Courvoisier and cigars). Oh, and she’s mom to actress Olivia Wilde. Now she lives on an organic hay farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia, where she’s running for Congress as a progressive in the 5th District — a Likely Republican race. To take on freshman Rep. Tom Garrett, she’ll first have to get by Marine veteran RD Huffstetler, a former chief of staff to Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.

Reader’s Race

Each week, we’ll take a deeper dive into a House or Senate race, or even just a primary. We’ll unpack the drama and get you up to speed. As the reader, you get to decide which race you want to read about. Every week, you’ll have two choices to vote on. Next week, it’s either Wisconsin Senate or North Carolina’s 9th District (Robert Pittenger). Let us know which race you’d like to know more about by responding to this email or sending us a note at

This week, a reader asked about Michigan’s 11th District, a newly open seat with the surprise retirement of two-term Republican Dave Trott in September. Democrats viewed it as a potential pickup opportunity even before that. Haley Stevens, the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama’s Auto Task Force, is running. Several other Democrats are also in the race, including Detroit’s former director of immigrant affairs Fayrouz Saad, who would be the first Muslim woman in Congress.

Republicans are excited about businesswoman Lena Epstein, who dropped down from the Senate race to run here. It’s a Lean Republican race. Trump carried the district by 4 points, while Mitt Romney carried it by 5. Before them, Obama carried it by 2.

Photo Finish

President Donald Trump hydrated himself during a speech this week, but Sen. Marco Rubio said Trump “needs to work on his form.” How it’s done: