At a press conference this morning at Alki Beach, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that he has decided not to seek a second term as leader of the state’s largest city, saying “it tears me to pieces to step away”.
Flanked by loyal supporters, Murray reflected on his accomplishments before saying the 2017 mayoral race ought not to be focused on scandal.
Murray, who previously served as a state representative and state senator prior to being elected Mayor of Seattle four years ago, had seemingly been in good shape for reelection before the filing of a lawsuit last month in which he was accused of having sexually abused a minor many years ago.
The filing of the suit, which rocked Seattle politics, was accompanied by the revelation that other men have for years made similar claims against Murray.
The mayor strenuously denies the allegations. But his handling of them has earned him widespread condemnation from activists and media alike.
The Seattle Times editorial board urged him to drop out of the 2017 race last month, and The Stranger followed suit yesterday.
Up until this weekend, people in Murray’s circle were publicly insisting that he was running for reelection, and his most prominent backers were standing by him. But then came the poll results. A survey commissioned by the mayor’s camp apparently found that the mayor’s position with the electorate had seriously deteriorated.
And so Murray is retiring rather than risk being defeated in August (as Greg Nickels and Paul Schell were) or in November (as Mike McGinn was — by him).
Seattle is thus guaranteed to have a new mayor in 2018.
McGinn, who wants his old job back, is among a bevy of contenders who have stepped forward to succeed Murray. Others include activists Nikkita Oliver and Cary Moon, as well as State Senator Bob Hasegawa, and television producer Michael Harris. Other declared candidates include Peter Alcorn, Casey Carlisle, David Ishii, Harley Lever, Mary Juanita Martin, and Jason Roberts.
And more candidates are now expected to announce in the coming days. It could be one of the widest mayoral fields Seattle has seen in a long time.
Former United States Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan is expected to launch a candidacy shortly (with the backing of former Governor Chris Gregoire), and Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell is also said to be mulling a bid.