Seattle Mayor Murray endorses Durkan for mayor

Former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan announces her candidacy for mayor of Seattle, May 12, 2017. (Credit: KING)
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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced Thursday he is not running for re-election as a write-in candidate and is endorsing former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan.

"While I would love nothing more than be mayor for another term, I've decided it is time for me to pass the torch to the next leader who will build upon the legacy of progressive achievements that we have achieved. that candidate is Jenny Durkan," Murray said at a press conference with Durkan at his side.

"I am honored to be seeking the office of mayor and honored to be seeking it with his endorsement," Durkan said.

Mayor Murray commissioned a poll last week to assess the viability of a write-in campaign ahead of the August 1 primary. 

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Related: Mayor weighs write-in campaign

"It got really complicated," Murray said at his news conference when asked about the poll. "Certainly, I was one of the top three, but the write-in made it very, very complicated." 

If Murray had filed as a declared write-in candidate, his name would not have appeared on the ballot; a voter would have had to take the extra step of physically writing his name. It's a campaign that would have taken additional effort and organizing, with not much time left until ballots go out. 

Mayor Murray withdrew his campaign for re-election in May, facing a civil suit alleging sexual abuse in the 1980s. The suit was dropped earlier this month; Murray's accuser says he wants to wait until the Mayor is out of office to pursue the case.

Murray has denied all allegations and believes the suit was politically motivated. 

"In our own polling, I still have the majority of people who feel that I'm doing a good job, and roughly two thirds of the people had questions or did not believe the allegations. So, hopefully I am not doing damage to Jenny Durkan or anybody else," added Murray.

The Mayor indicated that two other candidates had sought his endorsement including former State Representative Jessyn Farrell. 

One of Murray's former campaign consultants, Christian Sinderman is now working with Farrell. However, other top-level former Murray campaign staffers, including political consultant Sandeep Kaushik, are now working with Durkan. 

"It wasn't a matter of not endorsing Jessyn," said Mayor Murray. "It was that in my conversation with Jenny, I really believe she has the best chance of winning, and I really do not want to see this city go back to the divisiveness that I inherited."

Without referring to him by name, Murray took an apparent shot at his former political rival Mike McGinn, who lost the Mayor's office to Murray in 2013. 

"I don’t want to go back to the politics I faced in 2013 about who is politically correct, who is left enough; that is only divisive. I don’t want to go back to a time when transit measures failed and affordable housing measures collapsed. I believe Jenny has best chance of winning and not taking us back to that time," said Murray. 

McGinn has not yet responded to KING 5's request for comment. 

While the Mayor would not reveal the details of his poll, he acknowledged that Durkan was among the top three in his survey. Murray would not comment on how McGinn polled, in his survey. 

A KING 5/KUOW polconducted last week revealed McGinn with a slight edge, followed by Durkan in the 21-person race. McGinn and Durkan were neck and neck in the poll, when margin of error was taken into account. 

Durkan did well among female voters polled, as well as older voters -- particularly voters 65 and older. She also did better among educated and affluent voters, whereas McGinn did well with younger, male voters and also had a broader reach across different education and income levels. 

The KING5/KUOW poll also found a significant number of still undecided voters, nearly 40 percent. Attorney and organizer Nikkita Oliver, State Senator Bob Hasegawa, Jessyn Farrell and urban planner Cary Moon rounded out the top six, according to our survey.

When it comes to fundraising, to date, Jenny Durkan maintains a wide lead, currently, with more than $286,000 in campaign contributions. She's also amassed support from the Seattle business community and the sole endorsement of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, CASE. 

Related: Fundraising numbers to date

Durkan, who was also the first openly gay U.S. Attorney, was also endorsed by Victory Fund, a national group dedicated to supporting LGBTQ leaders to public office.

During his news conference on Thursday, Mayor Murray referenced a long history of working with Durkan on LGBT issues dating back to the 90s. 

As for what's next for a Mayor who has spent three decades building a career in politics, Murray says he doesn't know but added he doesn't plan on running for elected office, again. 

"This has been my life, but it's not going to be my life in the future," he said.

 

All six have been invited to a debate next month held by KING 5, Seattle CityClub, KUOW, and GeekWire. 

KING 5's coverage of the race, to date