In other instances, especially in Hollywood, a handful of women speaking up have led to many more coming forward -- a scenario that could repeat in Washington.
"The good news is, there seems to be something happening, a real moment across industries where victims of sexual assault are feeling empowered to speak out against powerful men that have gotten away with this sh for way too long," said Jesse Lehrich, a Democratic operative. "So if there are other politicians who are guilty of this kind of misconduct -- Dem or Republican -- I hope they'll be served their justice too."
In a statement Friday, Moore denied the allegations of misconduct.
"I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct," he said. "As a father of a daughter and a grandfather of five granddaughters, I condemn the actions of any man who engages in sexual misconduct not just against minors but against any woman."
But the allegations have the potential to upend the 2018 midterms--potentially endangering what should be a ruby-red Senate seat -- at a time when Republicans hold only a slim majority in the Senate, at 52 seats, and are defending competitive House seats in a climate that is traditionally rough for the president's party.
There are historical reasons for Republicans to worry about political implications: for example, during the 2006 midterm campaigns, Republicans faced serious blowback--and ultimately sustained major political damage--as Florida Rep. Mark Foley resigned over sending sexually explicit messages to young male pages.
"In 2006, Mark Foley pawing on the front door of the page residence created a dumpster fire for Republicans and was certainly a factor in the Democratic sweep that year," Schmidt recalled.
Eleven years later, as Washington Republicans grappled with how to address the allegations against Moore on Friday, Schmidt continued, "it seems, for many, that this is an hour of accountability."
(Lesley Clark contributed to this report.)
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