(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
The Republican Senate campaign wing on Friday cut fundraising ties with Roy Moore, the party's US Senate nominee in Alabama, the latest sign that the Republican establishment was abandoning his campaign a day after sexual misconduct allegations upended a seemingly one-sided race.
Meanwhile, Democrats and progressive groups, emboldened by Democratic election victories in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday, sought to capitalize on the accusations in support of the Democratic nominee, former US Attorney Doug Jones.
Moore, a controversial former judge and a staunch Christian conservative, was accused by a woman of initiating a sexual encounter in 1979 when she was 14 years old and he was a 32-year-old prosecutor, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Three other women said he pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18, though none accused him of sexual contact.
The 70-year-old Moore again denied any wrongdoing on Friday during an appearance on conservative commentator Sean Hannity's national radio show.
"These allegations are completely false and misleading," Moore said of claims that he engaged in sexual misconduct.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which helps elect Republicans to the Senate, filed paperwork with federal election officials on Friday severing its fundraising relationship with Moore for the special election on Dec. 12.
Numerous Republican leaders either called on Moore to drop out immediately or said he should do so if the allegations prove true.
"Moore is unfit for office and should step aside," former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said on Twitter.
But several Alabama Republican officials did not waver in their support of Moore.
The contrasting reactions echoed the rift exposed when Moore bested the incumbent, Luther Strange, in the Republican primary.
Strange was backed by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies, while Moore's candidacy earned the support of self-styled outsiders such as Steve Bannon, the former strategist for US President Donald Trump.