‘Bama bombshell

With Daniel Strauss and Maggie Severns

ALABAMA BOMBSHELL — “Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32,” by the Washington Post’s Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites: “Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore. … Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear. … Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the three women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.” Full story.

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— “Republicans might be stuck with Roy Moore,” by Daniel Strauss, Elana Schor and Kevin Robillard: “GOP leaders desperately want Roy Moore off the ballot. But they have neither the legal nor the political leverage to force the defiant ex-judge out of the race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a host of other Republican senators called on Moore to drop out of the race Thursday if there were truth to the accounts of four women who told The Washington Post that Moore pursued relationships with them while they were teens and he was in his 30s. The news sent Republican operatives scrambling to parse the dusty sections of Alabama state law that deal with replacing candidates on the ballot. … ‘Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake,’ Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead said in a statement. ‘National liberal organizations know their chosen candidate Doug Jones is in a death spiral, and this is their last ditch Hail Mary.’ Though Republicans have begun looking into options to replace Moore, Alabama law requires the candidate roster on the ballot to be set 74 days before an election. If Moore does withdraw, however, any votes cast for him would not count. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and other Republicans have suggested that GOP Sen. Luther Strange, the appointed senator who lost to Moore in the special primary, could put himself forward as a write-in candidate.” Full story.

— What Luther Strange told the Associated Press when asked if he would reenter the race: “Well, that’s getting the cart ahead of the horse. But I will have something to say about that. Let me do some more research.”

— What White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press pool: “Like most Americans the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”

— What Democrats are thinking: Neither the DSCC nor Jones’ campaign rushed to put out a statement, and Jones’ eventual statement was brief: “Roy Moore needs to answer these serious charges.” If Strange or another Republican mounts a write-in campaign, it gives Jones a better chance of winning with a vote total in the 40 percent range. But don’t expect any rash excitement about their chances in such a deep-red state.

— What McConnell world is thinking: If we let Steve Bannon control our primaries, we’re going to keep ending up with scandal-ridden candidates. Even if Moore survives this, candidates in more competitive states won’t.

— What Bannon world is thinking: A few weeks ago, McConnell’s people were saying Bannon had nothing to do with Moore’s win. Moore is strongly denying the accusations, and like President Donald Trump, will probably survive this.

— “Moore fundraises off of report alleging relationships with teenagers,” by Campaign Pro’s Daniel Strauss: “A defiant Moore, who faced calls from fellow Republicans to end his Senate campaign Thursday, cast the story as a political conspiracy against him and called the story ‘lies,’ asking ‘God-fearing conservatives’ to help him carry on. ‘The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced,’ Moore wrote in the fundraising email. ‘I won’t to get into the details of their filthy and sleazy attacks.’” Full story.

— Democratic senators launch money blitz for Jones: Some of the best online fundraisers among Senate Democrats sent out fundraising e-mails for Doug Jones last night, including Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, California’s Kamala Harris, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren. Gillibrand’s e-mail was the only one to directly reference the allegations in the Washington Post story. “If you’ve followed the Senate special election in Alabama at all, you know Roy Moore is unfit for office – and recent allegations that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl are utterly disgusting,” Gillibrand writes.

— The pols with ties to Moore: Moore had garnered increasing support from Washington Republicans in recent months. Dozens of Republicans including six GOP senators — Steve Daines, Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Cory Gardner — endorsed Moore prior to Thursday’s bombshell story. Paul and Lee recently hosted a fundraiser for Moore, and he formed a joint fundraising committee with the NRSC and the RNC. Moore has received campaign donations from Rep. Andy Harris ($2,000), Rep. Jeff Duncan ($1,000) and Rep. Thomas Massie ($1,000) — as well as former Rep. Todd Akin ($2,700), who still has a leadership PAC.

HOW VIRGINIA HAPPENED — “How Gillespie’s MS-13 play backfired in Virginia,” by Campaign Pro’s Kevin Robillard: “The ads from Republican Ed Gillespie’s campaign would define and drive conversation about the Virginia governor’s race — and not in the way Gillespie wanted. The race ended in a resounding win for [Democrat Ralph] Northam on Tuesday night, driven by high turnout from the so-called Obama coalition of white college-educated voters, minorities and young people. The ads would betray Gillespie’s repeated warnings about the GOP’s need to reach out to Hispanic voters. And, according to Democrats, they would create a backlash that helped drown him. ‘Gillespie’s MS-13 ads, his race-baiting with the statues, his very strong anti-immigrant rhetoric completely backfired,’ said Matt Barreto, the managing partner of Democratic polling firm Latino Decisions. ‘Voters recognized that Gillespie heavily racialized this campaign.’ All the while, Northam’s campaign would rely on the lieutenant governor’s authenticity to rebut the attacks. National Democrats fretted about the energy backing Northam’s campaign, and commentators slammed his television ads as boring. But the campaign stuck to its message, seeing little movement in the polls. They planned for a worst-case scenario of low Democratic turnout, but ultimately knocked on more doors than Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the state had a year earlier and won by an unexpected 9-point margin. ‘Reporters wanted us to say something new, but we didn’t because we knew what voters needed to hear about Northam,’ Brad Komar, Northam’s campaign manager, said in an interview. ‘I think folks interpreted discipline as boring. Discipline is effective.’” Full story.

— “One big takeaway from Virginia? Authenticity is essential,” by Jesse Ferguson in The Hill: “If there’s one thing Virginia voters learned about Ralph Northam before they propelled him to a decisive victory Tuesday night, it’s who he is. Northam isn’t flashy. He’s a doctor and a veteran; a public servant focused on taking care of kids. They knew who he was.” Full story.

Days until the 2018 election: 361.

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com, dstrauss@politico.com and mseverns@politico.com.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @danielstrauss4 and @maggieseverns.

THE MONEY CHASE — “Perry to headline Texas event for pro-Trump outside group,” by Campaign Pro’s Maggie Severns: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry will attend an event in Texas next week put on by America First Policies, the pro-Trump political nonprofit, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. The invitation, which was sent to a Republican donor, says that Perry will headline a ‘roundtable discussion’ in Houston on Monday afternoon. Details of the event’s location will only available to those who RSVP shortly before the event, the invitation said. Perry’s trip to Texas comes at an auspicious moment for America First Policies and its affiliated super PAC, America First Action. The organization is working to lock in support from donors and establish itself as a center of gravity for pro-Trump activity with close ties to the Trump administration. … Perry has deep ties to both the energy industry and donors in Texas, which helped power his two presidential runs. But Perry will not be in Houston asking for funds, said Texas businessman Roy Bailey, who is deeply involved in America First Policies. ‘It’s a nice opportunity for people to understand what’s going on at the Energy Department,’ Bailey said.” Full story.

— Stewart fundraiser promises jacuzzi: An invitation to a “MAGA-evening fundraiser” for Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart’s campaign next week promises “hors d’oeuvres, 3-hour open bar and DJ” and notes: “This will be a business casual event with a casual atmosphere.There is an outdoor Jacuzzi. We recommend attendees bring swimsuits.” Tickets are $100 a head. View the invite.

THE DAILY MENENDEZ — “Dismissed Menendez juror: ‘I don’t think he did anything wrong,’” by Matt Friedman in Newark: “A juror who was excused Thursday afternoon from U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s federal corruption trial said that if she had stayed on, she would have found Menendez ‘not guilty on every charge.’ Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby also said other jurors’ feelings about the case are mixed and she believes the result may be a hung jury. Arroyo-Maultsby made the comments to a few reporters outside the federal courthouse in Newark, moments after leaving the trial to begin a previously-scheduled vacation in the Bahamas.” Full story.

THE ‘I’ WORD — “Steyer to drop another $10M on Trump impeachment ads,” by POLITICO’s Gabriel DeBenedetti: “Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer said Thursday that he’s adding $10 million to his national television ad campaign calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Speaking on a conference call outlining the public support for his effort, Steyer also said he would fund two new ads in addition to the one that’s been backed by an existing $10 million buy. More than 1.9 million Americans have now signed his weeks-old petition to impeach Trump, Steyer said on the call.” Full story.

— “Democratic congressional candidate from Miami calls for impeaching Trump,” by the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei: “Miami congressional candidate Mary Barzee Flores called for President Donald Trump’s impeachment Wednesday. … Barzee Flores cited at least six reasons for Congress to impeach the president, including firing former FBI Director James Comey and hiring Michael Flynn — who has since been fired — as national security adviser despite having ties to Russia.” Full story.

GAFFE CITY — “Dem candidate: It ‘shouldn’t take brain cancer’ for John McCain to show courage,” by the Washington Examiner’s Al Weaver: “‘I’ve been tweeting on occasion about saluting Bob Corker and John McCain and Jeff Flake – men who have shown a little bit of courage speaking truth to their own party,’ said Dean Phillips, who is running for a House seat in Minnesota. ‘But it shouldn’t take brain cancer and the retirement from the Senate to do so.’ Phillips is running against Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., in the state’s 3rd Congressional District. … Phillips later apologized to McCain.” Full story.

RETIREMENT WATCH — “Goodlatte to retire after 2018,” by Campaign Pro’s Elena Schneider: “Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the term-limited chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said on Thursday that he will not seek reelection in 2018. … In the last week, three Texas congressman — Jeb Hensarling, Ted Poe and Lamar Smith — also left safely conservative seats behind. Hensarling and Smith were also term-limited as committee chairmen. As recently as July, Goodlatte’s staff sought to squash rumors that the 65-year-old congressman planned to retire. Goodlatte’s decision opens a Republican-leaning seat, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, which backed President Donald Trump by a 24-point margin.” Full story.

PRIMARY CONCERNS — “Gabby Giffords’ anti-gun violence group backs Abrams in Georgia governor race,” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein: “Both Abrams and her Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Evans, have called for stiff new gun restrictions, marking something of a sea change for Democratic candidates for governor in Georgia. … But one vote might have helped Abrams secure the backing of Courage to Fight Gun Violence, the Giffords group once known as Americans for Responsible Solutions. A measure passed to little fanfare in 2012 prohibited the destruction of firearms by local law enforcement during criminal investigations, and required cities and counties to auction off the guns they collected within six months. Abrams voted against Senate Bill 350, Evans backed it.” Full story.

2018 WATCH — “Democrat Pappas announces candidacy for 1st District US House seat,” by WMUR’s John DiStaso and Adam Sexton: “Stressing the importance of constituent service and a commitment to helping to break the gridlock in Washington, Chris Pappas of Manchester announced his candidacy for the open 1st District U.S. House seat Thursday morning. Speaking exclusively to WMUR at the Puritan Backroom, a popular restaurant that has been under the ownership of his family for 100 years, the three-term Democratic executive councilor said that he arrived at the final decision after speaking with Granite Staters throughout the district.” Full story.

AROUND THE MAP — Quick takes from across the country:

SENATE

Indiana: Iraq War veteran Martin Del Rio may challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the primary, The Journal-Gazette reports.

Wisconsin: “GOP Senate hopeful Kevin Nicholson supported Rosie O’Donnell’s gun control views,” Fox6 reports.

HOUSE

CO-06: Trump-backing Republican Roger Edwards will challenge Rep. Mike Coffman in the GOP primary, the Denver Post reports.

NC-02: A Democrat challenging Republican Rep. George Holding said a DCCC attack on Holding was “tasteless and insensitive,” the News and Observer reports.

VA-10: “After Virginia blowout, Comstock’s road to reelection grows steeper,” the Washington Post reports.

GOVERNOR

Michigan: State Sen. Patrick Colbeck, a Republican candidate, said he was supposed to speak at an event featuring former White House chief of staff Steve Bannon but was pulled at the last minute, according to The Detroit News’ Jonathan Oosting.

South Carolina: All three GOP candidates for governor plan to attend former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s speech at The Citadel, The Post and Courier reports.

CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter.They became parents of Jesus.” — Alabama Auditor Jim Ziegler to the Washington Examiner.

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