The Democratic Party has had it with Sen. Al Franken. On the day a seventh woman accused the Minnesota Democrat of unwanted sexual advances, a stunning 23 Democratic senators (and counting) publicly called on him to resign.
In doing so, Democrats are making a play to become the party that believes women, even if it means losing one of the most popular members of the Senate, one repeatedly tipped as a potential VP or even presidential candidate. Sen. Franken is widely expected to follow their advice and resign on Thursday.
The swiftness with which Democrats turned on Franken is in sharp contrast to the Republican Party’s treatment of Alabama’s Roy Moore, accused of molesting a 14-year-old when he was a 30-something district attorney, and attempting to date at least four other teenagers.
After initially condemning Moore and withdrawing financial support and party personnel, the Republican National Committee backed him and restored funding to senate bid earlier this week. Republicans in the Senate that once called on him to pull out of the race are now saying Alabama should decide.
The RNC has a lot more to lose with Moore. If they condemn him, they risk losing a Senate seat that a Democrat hasn’t won since 1992. And Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate: 52 to Democrats’ 48 seats.
If Franken resigns, his Senate seat will be filled by an appointment from Minnesota’s Democratic governor. In short, the Democrats sacrifice a personality who’s become toxic anyway without weakening their voting power in the Senate. Here’s a breakdown of how the two parties’ are handling their scandals.
Democrats and Al Franken
Weeks after Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor, posted a picture of Wisconsin Sen. Al Franken apparently groping her while she was asleep, Democrats have finally turned on him.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that a former Democratic aide said Franken tried to force a kiss on her in 2006. That was three years before he became a senator. She is the seventh woman to accuse Franken of sexual harassment, groping, or unwanted advances.
Franken called the allegation “categorically untrue.”
From there, the dominoes fell. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York became the first Democrat to call for Franken to step down. Now at least 23 senators have called for Franken to resign.
“We can’t just believe women when it’s convenient,” Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania tweeted.
Republicans and Roy Moore
The Republicans are going the opposite direction on Roy Moore, running in a special election to succeed Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.
Following President Trump’s endorsement of Moore this week (“Go get ‘em, Roy,” he reportedly told him), the Republican National Committee restored funding Moore’s campaign for Senate again after cutting ties with him weeks ago.
In October, the RNC published a listed of Democrats who had accepted money from Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced Hollywood producer who has been accused of sexual assault and rape by many women, and called on them to return the donations.
“If Democrats and the DNC truly stand up for women like they say they do, then returning this dirty money should be a no brainer,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said at the time. Some Democrats, such as Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, ultimately acquiesced and donated Weinstein’s money to groups advocating on behalf of women.
Moore is less of a “no brainer” for Republicans. While some have called for Moore to drop out of the race, others have been wishy-washy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially condemned Moore before toning it down on Sunday, saying Alabama voters should “make the call.”
The RNC and Republicans, it seems, has been invigorated by President Donald Trump’s recently unabashed support of Moore.
Some Republicans have criticized the RNC’s move to support Moore. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a noted critic of President Trump, tweeted a picture of a $100 check he wrote to Doug Jones, Moore’s Democrat opponent, with a memo line “Country over Party.”
Mitt Romney said that Roy Moore “would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation.” He called Moore’s accusers “courageous heroes.”