WASHINGTON — The Maryland Democratic Party challenged the state’s only Republican in Congress on Friday to denounce Alabama GOP senate nominee Roy Moore.
A spokesman for the state Democratic Party said Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican, should withdraw his endorsement of Moore, the subject of allegations he initiated relationships with minors in the 1970s and 1980s.
A woman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32, according to The Washington Post. Three other women said he took them on dates when they were teenagers.
Harris backed Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, long before the allegations were reported Thursday. Harris’s campaign committee contributed $1,000 to Moore’s campaign in September, and his leadership PAC gave another $1,000 in August.
“Congressman Andy Harris owes it to his constituents and all decent Marylanders to withdraw his endorsement of Roy Moore,” said Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson Fabion Seaton.
Harris’ campaign released a one-sentence statement late Friday that referenced one of the four allegations against Moore: “If the allegations regarding Leigh Corfman are accurate, Judge Moore should withdraw from the race.”
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Harris, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, endorsed Moore in September ahead of Alabama’s Republican primary runoff. In a campaign news release at the time, Harris described Moore as someone who would bring “principle to the Senate” and said he had a “backbone of steel.”
Attempting to pin a scandal involving one member of a party on everyone else in the party is a well-worn political tactic, though Maryland Democrats have generally not spent much time engaging with Harris. The congressman represents a solidly Republican district that covers portions of the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore’s northern suburbs.
The allegations against Moore — which he has denied — have prompted other Republicans to weigh in.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters traveling with the president in Asia that “the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life,” but added that “the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Friday that Moore should drop out of the race and called him “unfit for office.”