UPDATED: 2:45 p.m. PDT — Embattled Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday dropped his bid for re-election with a statement that seemed designed to portray him as sacrificing his career in the interest of the city where he grew up.
Murray’s long political career came crashing down amid a scandal that erupted when he was sued for alleged child sexual abuse three decades ago. He has vigorously denied the allegations.
An openly gay politician, Murray previously served in the Washington Legislature, where he pushed a liberal agenda that included gun control and what many saw as a tax-and-spend philosophy that carried over to his single term as mayor of Washington State’s largest city.
He delivered his statement at the Alki Beach Bathhouse, surrounded by applauding supporters.
Since the first story broke on the pages of the Seattle Times on April 6 about the sexual allegations, at least three other men have come forward with similar allegations.
Murray’s departure will open the door for others to enter what may become a wild and wide-open race that has attracted Mike McGinn, the bicycle-loving activist Murray defeated almost four years ago.
Even if the lawsuit scandal had not erupted, there were still signs that Murray might have been in trouble with some voters, despite suggestions that he would have waltzed into a second term. His suggestions for increased sales and property taxes to pay for homeless programs drew heavy criticism from conservatives, as did his advocacy for the establishment of a “safe injection” site for heroin addicts.
In bowing out, Murray promised to be “just as active” after he leaves office as he has been through most of his adult life.
A liberal Democrat, Murray championed the city’s controversial “gun violence tax” in 2015 that is now the subject of a landmark lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and two firearms retailers. There is a second lawsuit filed by SAF and TheGunMag.com over the city’s failure to disclose the amount of revenue raised by that tax. He has consistently supported gun control.
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, told Liberty Park Press Tuesday afternoon, “I don’t know if Ed Murray molested children, but I do know he molested the Second Amendment.”
When the tax was adopted, its proponents predicted that it would bring in between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, which would be used to finance so-called “gun violence” education and prevention efforts. The city will only say now that the amount raised in 2016 is “less than $200,000” which seems almost evasive to the plaintiffs.
While McGinn was heavily criticized as mayor for promoting alternative transportation, especially his push for bicycle lanes that eliminated many on-street parking spots and contributed to traffic problems in the downtown area, Murray’s devotion to programs for the homeless and substance abusers drew even more complaints. Many critics, including KIRO radio host Dori Monson, have asserted that Murray’s policies made Seattle a “magnet” for the homeless and drug addicts.
Seattle has earned a reputation for voting increasingly to the political left. A Republican could not hope to survive a primary, much less win a general election.
But Murray’s announcement is likely to draw more candidates to replace him beyond the ten already in the race.