Gov. Kay Ivey has no plan to change the date of the Dec. 12 election for U.S. Senate, her spokesman said Saturday.
"The governor is not considering and has no plans to move the special election for U.S. Senate," Ivey communications director Josh Pendergrass said in an email to The Anniston Star on Saturday morning.
Ivey, a Republican, is facing pressure from fellow GOP officials to find ways to allow the party to replace nominee Roy Moore on the ballot, according to a Friday report in The New York Times.
Moore, a former Republican judge and well-known figure among religious conservatives, faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former federal prosecutor, in the Dec. 12 election. The winner will finish the Senate term begin by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now U.S. attorney general.
Moore has been ahead in most polls, but the dynamics may have changed after The Washington Post on Thursday published accounts of four women, all former Etowah County residents who said Moore pursued them romantically when they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. All the alleged instances occurred in the late 1970s or early 1980s. One of the women in the story said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he initiated an encounter with her at his home in which he took his clothes off, undressed her and touched her through her underwear.
Moore has denied the charges, saying he never met the women. One of the women, in Thursday comments to The Star, stood by her story.
Many local GOP activists have said they don't believe the claims, but GOP leaders at the national level —including President Donald Trump, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney — have either withdrawn their support or urged Moore to step aside if true.
State officials, however, say it's too late for Moore to step aside, at least for purposes of the ballot. With Election Day less than a month away, absentee ballots are already printed and military voters overseas are already casting their votes, Secretary of State John Merrill said Friday. Merrill said Moore could "drop dead today" and would still remain on the ballot.
The Times on Friday reported that Ivey’s advisers had not ruled out moving the election date, a tactic that could allow Republicans to find a new nominee. Citing "Republicans in touch with her camp," The Times reported that Ivey "would like reassurances of support from the White House before taking such an aggressive step."
Ivey's spokesman seemed to rule that out Saturday. She also appeared to rule out the possibility in remarks to reporters from al.com and other outlets Friday. Reporters asked he if she would use her powers as governor to move the date.
"I'm not aware of that authority," Ivey said.
The Star submitted public records requests to the offices of both Merrill and Ivey Saturday morning for any correspondence relating to efforts to change the election date.