Seattle mayor ends reelection bid after abuse allegations

Seattle mayor ends reelection bid after abuse allegations
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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray ended his campaign for re-election Tuesday in the face of allegations he sexually abused young men in the 1980s.
Murray, a former Democratic state legislator who won office in 2013, faces a lawsuit from a man who claims Murray “raped and molested” him in 1986, when he was just 15 years old. Three other men have since come forward to accuse Murray of abuse, including paying for sex with them while they were minors.
Murray has denied the allegations. But in a news conference Tuesday, just days before candidate filing opens ahead of November’s elections, he said he would not seek a second term.
“It tears me to pieces to step away,” Murray said.
The scandal began with the lawsuit, filed in early April, that included graphic descriptions of Murray’s genitals. Murray’s legal team aggressively defended the mayor, questioning the accuser’s state of mind and his history of drug abuse.
Murray's reelection bid suffered another blow when The Seattle Times tracked down several other accusers, including one man who had been Murray’s foster son.
A fourth accuser came forward just last week. Murray’s spokesman denied those allegations as well.
Murray, the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, had been expected to coast to a second term. The allegations weakened his political chances, as several possible challengers began exploring bids to replace him, but the mayor’s own response may have doomed his chances of overcoming the scandal.
“The real story here is the terrible public relations done by his campaign after the allegations happened,” said John Wyble, a Democratic strategist in Seattle. “The campaign attacked the accusers, attacked the media, increased attention on the story with their pugilistic tone and generally made Ed look not fit to be mayor.”
Murray won election by unseating ultra-liberal Mayor Mike McGinn in 2013.
During Murray's tenure, Seattle’s liberal city council voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The mayor also oversaw increased development by tech giants like Amazon that has dramatically reshaped Seattle’s downtown.
Even before Murray’s announcement, rivals were circling. State Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D) said Monday he would run, and The Seattle Times reported that former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, a major Democratic Party donor, has begun making calls seeking support as well.