Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday dropped his re-election bid for a second term after four men claimed he sexually abused them when they were teenagers, claims vehemently denied by Murray as an anti-gay political conspiracy aimed at derailing his campaign.
Murray said for weeks after the allegations emerged that he would press on in his campaign for a second term but told reporters that he decided it was best for Seattle to end his campaign and not seek another term. He said he will serve out his term through the end of this year.
“It tears me to pieces to step away but I believe it’s in the best interest of this city that I love,” Murray said.
The 62-year-old Murray was elected in 2013 and successfully pushed to raise Seattle’s hourly minimum wage to $15.
Before winning the city’s top job he served for 18 years as a state lawmaker. He was the prime sponsor of Washington’s gay marriage law, spearheaded an effort to protect LGBTQ youth in public schools and led the state’s push to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
After President Donald Trump was elected last fall, Murray became a frequent, high-profile critic. He recently announced Seattle was suing over Trump’s executive order that threatens to withhold federal funds from communities that refuse to cooperate with efforts to find and deport immigrants in the country illegally.
Last month a man filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by Murray in the 1980s when he was a teenager. Three made similar allegations, and all were denied by Murray.
A judge last week sanctioned the lawyer for the man who sued Murray for “flagrant” violations of ethical rules.
The judge fined lawyer Lincoln Beauregard $5,000 for violating the rules of civil procedure. Murray’s lawyer had called for sanctions against Beauregard, accusing him of using stunts to try to generate negative publicity against the mayor.
Before the lawsuit emerged, Murray was expected to win a second term in a field that included high-profile challenger Nikkita Oliver, a community activist and attorney.
Shortly after the claims were announced, former Mayor Mike McGinn announced he would join the race run against Murray. Murray defeated McGinn in 2013. Also Monday, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa said he would also run. Both are Democrats.
Murray grew up in working class neighborhoods in and around Seattle and became one of the state’s most prominent political figures.
As a young man he considered joining the priesthood and spent a year at a seminary in 1976 before studying sociology at the University of Portland, a private Catholic institution.
Murray ended up working as a paralegal with public defender lawyers in Portland before returning to Seattle and joining the vanguard of the gay rights movement in the 1980s, serving as campaign manager for Cal Anderson, a Seattle state senator who was the Legislature’s first openly gay member.
Anderson, Murray’s mentor, died in 1995. Murray failed in his bid to win Anderson’s seat, but he was appointed to fill the legislative seat of the state representative who won the state senate campaign.