Several weeks ago, three major newspapers in Alabama published editorials with the same headline: "Stand for Democracy, Reject Roy Moore," endorsing Jones for Alabama's US Senate seat instead of Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and misconduct when they were underage.
However, editor Troy Turner, who runs Opelika-Auburn News in eastern Alabama, said that he could never publish an editorial like that.
"I would have bullet holes in my windows," Turner said, adding that his own staff is divided on whether the allegations against Moore, first reported by The Washington Post last month, are true.
But Turner's editorial staff is not unwilling to criticize Moore, either: last month they ran a daring editorial headline — "It's time for Roy Moore to step aside for Alabama."
"The damage is done. When the situation is so bad that it unites opposing political voices during an era of rigid political divide, it leaves little doubt what should come next. Roy Moore should withdraw from the US Senate race," the editorial said.
Publisher Rex Maynor admitted that this was "one of the strongest stances the paper has taken," especially since the publication has never endorsed a candidate before.
"At the big papers, they don't go into the coffee shops and churches with their readers like we do," Turner said, commenting on the personal connection he has to his readers. "We have to be strategic crusaders."
In a blog post Sunday, Richard Hasen, a legal scholar and expert in election law, explained that Alabama has a straight-ticket option on the ballot, which allows voters to vote Republican without explicitly voting for Moore. A Republican vote, of course, will still help put Moore in office.
Multiple women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct. Four women have accused Moore of inappropriate sexual behavior toward them when they were teenagers, and one woman has come forward with an allegation that Moore initiated a sexual act with her when she was 14 and he was 32.
Following the allegations, many Republicans have urged Moore to drop out of the Alabama Senate race. However, on Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had previously implored Moore to drop out, said that the decision will be up to the people of Alabama.
US President Donald Trump also endorsed Moore on Monday.
"Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, Border Wall, Military, Pro Life, V.A., Judges 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer Puppet!" Trump tweeted.