(CN) – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Friday she plans to vote for Republican Roy Moore for U.S. Senate despite accusations of sexual misconduct that are proving divisive for GOP women in the state.
Speaking to reporters in Birmingham, Ivey said while she has no reason to disbelieve women who have come forward to claim Moore sexually molested or tried to date them when they were teenagers, she is more concerned that a victory by Democrat Doug Jones would threaten GOP control of the Senate.
Moore is running against Jones in the special election on Dec. 12.
Ivey’s comments came shortly after Kayla Moore and about two dozen other women gathered on the steps of the state capitol to defend her husband ‘s honor.
“He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,” Kayla Moore said at a “Women for Moore” rally.
Acting as her husband’s lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. “To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,” Moore said.
But not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, and certainly not all women.
“I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don’t know that I can vote for him anymore,” said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in her 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.
One said Moore tried to initiate a sexual encounter with her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
“I have not found any reason not to believe them … They risked a whole lot to come forward,” Payne said of the accusers.
Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party’s brand among women nationwide as they prepared for a difficult midterm election season.
The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.
Jones told reporters Thursday night in Birmingham it was “really unfortunate” that state GOP leaders had chosen to discount the allegations of women and stick with Moore.
“One of the problems in this state is that people continue to put a political party above what is in the best interest of the state and what’s in the best interest of the country,” he said.
Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.
One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won’t vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.
“My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, ‘Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,” James said.
Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, held a “Moore is a pedophile,” a reference to the 14-year-old accuser.
Falvey, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.
“I think it’s really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he’s dragging us backwards,” Falvey said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.