Sen. Richard Shelby, R- Ala., came out swinging Sunday, saying his state can “do better” than elect Senate hopeful Roy Moore and suggested that people should write-in another candidate.
Shelby, the state’s senior senator, said he already cast an absentee ballot for another unspecified Republican.
The Republican Party supports Moore, whose campaign has been damaged by accusations of sexual misconduct with underage girls decades ago when he was a county prosecutor.
Moore is facing Democrat Doug Jones in the special election on Tuesday to replace Jeff Sessions, who vacated his Senate seat when President Trump appointed him the U.S. attorney general.
“I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. But I wrote in a distinguished Republican name. And I think a lot of people could do that,” Shelby said during a television appearance.
The accusations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls were a “tipping point” in disqualifying Moore from becoming a senator, according to the senior politician.
“The state of Alabama deserves better,” he said. “There’s a lot of smoke” in regard to the accusations against Moore. “Got to be some fire somewhere.”
If Alabamians elect Jones, he would be first Democratic Alabama senator in over two decades. Trump has come out in support of Moore out of fear that a loss in Alabama would narrow the GOP’s majority in the Senate.
Moore has seen his lead in the polls slip amid the allegations, but Trump’s endorsement last week might be the last-minute jolt his campaign needs to put him over the edge.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!” Trump tweeted last week, following weeks of silence regarding the Alabama race.
At a Florida rally Friday night, the president reiterated his support and rallied his supporters to get out and vote for the Republican candidate.
"We cannot afford ... to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate," he told the crowd. "We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our 'Make America Great Again' agenda … So get out and vote for Roy Moore. Do it. Do it."
He added: "We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer … His name is Jones and he’s their total puppet and everybody knows it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.