By Alana Abramson
December 10, 2017

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said on Sunday that he could not bring himself to vote for Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama’s upcoming Senate election.

Shelby, a Republican, said he did not vote for the Democratic candidate Doug Jones, but had written in a “distinguished Republican candidate” who he did not name.

“I’d rather see a Republican win, but I hope that Republican will be a write in,” Shelby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of the Union. “I think a lot of people could do that. Will they do that? I’m not sure.”

“I couldn’t vote for Roy Moore,” he said. “The state of Alabama deserves better.”

Since Nov. 9, nine women have said Moore pursued them romantically, with many saying they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. The allegations included initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old and serving an underage teenager wine. Moore has denied all the allegations, characterizing them as politically motivated and an attack from the liberal media.

Recent polling shows the race, which would typically be an easy win for a Republican candidate given Alabama’s history as a conservative state, is exceedingly close.

After the initial deluge of allegations, the Republican Party largely backed away from Moore, with several senators pulling their endorsements, and the Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee severing financial ties with the candidate. However, President Donald Trump endorsed Moore on Dec. 4, and has recorded a robocall for him.

After Trump’s endorsement, the Republican National Committee said it would financially support Moore, and transferred $170,000 to the Alabama GOP. The NRSC, however, is still staying out of the race; the organization’s chairman, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, has said Moore should be expelled from the Senate if he wins. Shelby said that the Senate will have to determine Moore’s fitness for serving if he wins.

“I understand where the president’s coming from, I understand we would like to retain that seat in the U.S. Senate,” Shelby told Tapper. “But there’s a time, we call it a tipping point. And I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip drip drip — when it got to the 14-year-old story, that was enough for me. I said, ‘I can’t vote for Roy Moore.'”

Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com.

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