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Seattle mayor says ‘heart aches’ as he drops from race

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced he will not run for re-election. (KIRO 7)
LISTEN: Seattle mayor announces he will not run for re-election

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced he will not run for re-election amid abuse claims which he says is distracting from the real issues.

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“This campaign for mayor, any campaign for mayor, must be about the future of this city,” he said.

If Murray remained in the race, he says it would be a distraction from the real issues.

Murray currently faces allegations that decades ago he sexually abused four minors. He has vehemently denied the claims, but had not yet filed to seek a second term with the deadline to submit the paperwork one week away. Publicly, until Tuesday, his campaign staff said the one-term mayor would run. But privately, Murray and others were gauging the erosion of the mayor’s popularity before deciding to make another bid.

Murray maintains his innocence and called the allegations against him “not true” as he announced that he would not run for re-election.

“They are not true and I say this with all honesty and the deepest sincerity,” he said.

According to the latest report from Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, Murray has more than $372,000 in campaign contributions. He has been fundraising since late 2016.

Murray’s announcement likely will trigger a slew of potential candidates stepping into the fray.  Former Mayor Mike McGinn has already announced, as has urban planner Cary Moon and activist and poet Nikita Oliver. Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan likely will announce her candidacy within days and Seattle Democratic Sen. Bob Hasagawa has also expressed an interest, among other candidates.

Four men have accused Murray of sexually abusing them as minors. The latest, Maurice Jones claimed he was introduced to Murray by Delvonn Heckard, who has said he was abused by the mayor in the 1980s. Murray has said he has no idea who Delvonn Heckard is and maintains that the man’s name “is not familiar” to him.

As of May, an independent trust has been created to raise money for Murray’s legal defense, The Seattle Times reports. To make sure the fund will not run afoul of regulations, the Pacifica Law Group sent a letter to the city’s ethics and elections commission stating their intent.

We represent the Ed Murray Legal Defense Fund, an independent trust being created to help defray the legal expenses that the Mayor of Seattle, Edward B. Murray, must incur to defend himself in an ongoing civil lawsuit … the mayor, a lifelong public servant, does not have the personal resources needed to fund his own legal defense.

Heckard, 46, is described as an openly gay man with no real political inclinations, which contrasts with the mayor’s claims that the allegations are a part of a right-wing conspiracy because the mayor pushed the LGBTQ civil rights bill.

Jeff Simpson, another one of Murray’s accusers, has stressed that he is not asking for anything other than for the mayor to admit what he did. Murray told KIRO 7 that he was Simpson’s “legal guardian for just under two years.”

Simpson is one of two Portland men who have accused Mayor Murray of sexual abuse while they were minors in the 1980s.

Murray became the mayor of Seattle in January 2014 after 18 years as state legislator representing the 43rd Legislative District. He was the prime sponsor of the state’s marriage equality bill. As mayor, he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage of City employees to $15 an hour.  Most recently, Murray proposed a soda tax and city income tax.

Murray lives in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood with his partner of 24 years, Michael Shiosaki.

MyNorthwest’s Stephanie Klein contributed to this story.

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