Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his decision Thursday to not relaunch his re-election campaign as a write-in candidate. Instead, he endorsed Jenny Durkan

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who dropped his bid for re-election last month, endorsed former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in the race Thursday.

Murray’s personal spokesman teased a “shake up” in the packed mayoral contest before the announcement. Then Murray held a news conference to say he would not relaunch his campaign as a write-in candidate, despite recently considering the option.

Instead, he backed Durkan and urged his supporters to do the same. Murray made the announcement in the lobby of the downtown Paramount Theatre.

“I realized that although the current primary field is crowded, there was one candidate in the race who stood head and shoulders above the rest,” he said.

“I’ve known Jenny for almost three decades. We worked together during the dark days of the anti-LGBT initiative in the ’90s. We worked together in her role as U.S. Attorney on police reform,” the mayor added.

“She has the experience, the temperament, the political skills, and she also has strong relationships regionally and nationally, to move this city forward during uncertain times.”

When he ended his campaign for a second term, Murray said allegations he had sexually abused teenagers in the 1980s had become too much of a distraction.

But he said he was vindicated earlier this month when a Kent man accusing him of sexual abuse decades ago withdrew his lawsuit against the mayor.

Murray last week said he was polling voters about the possibility of a write-in campaign. He had missed the deadline to put his name on the Aug. 1 primary-election ballot.

On Thursday, the mayor said the polling showed he had a path to victory, but that it would be “narrow and uncertain.”

He said his decision to stay out of the race was difficult because he loves being mayor. But he said “passing the torch” to Durkan would be best for the city.

Murray said Durkan can keep Seattle from returning to the “divisive” politics he inherited when he came into office in 2014. That comment seemed aimed at his predecessor, former Mayor Mike McGinn, who is running again this year.

McGinn responded Thursday.

“I think it kind of confirms what we already knew about this race,” McGinn said. “That the money and power is flowing to Jenny Durkan because that’s who she represents, is money and power. Fortunately for me, the voters decide who wins, not campaign contributions.”

Legal bills incurred defending the sexual-abuse lawsuit were also a factor, Murray said. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission last month said the mayor’s supporters can’t solicit donations to pay his attorneys as long as he remains in office.

Asked about accepting the endorsement of someone whom several men have accused of sexual abuse, Durkan said she believes Seattle voters are discerning. She said they can observe that Murray has been a good mayor, separate from the claims.

As an attorney, Durkan has represented both victims of sexual abuse and people wrongly accused, she said.

In an interview later Thursday, the candidate wouldn’t directly answer whether she believes Murray or believes his accusers. She said her focus is on issues facing the city and on what the mayor has done while in office.

Durkan has watched interviews with two of the accusers and has been impressed by their resilience in life, regardless of whether their allegations are true, she said.

There will be 21 candidates on the ballot for mayor, including Durkan, McGinn, former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell, state Sen. Bob Hasegawa, activist and attorney Nikkita Oliver and urban planner Cary Moon.

Murray said he and Durkan were among the top three candidates in his polling last week. He wouldn’t say who the third candidate was, nor did he reveal the order of the three.