Catch up on Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s path from a student-body president to leader of one of the most liberal cities in the nation. Murray on Tuesday called off his bid for a second term.
Ed Murray’s political career, which seemed poised for greater success just months ago, is imperiled if not over after his announcement Tuesday that he is not seeking another term as Seattle mayor.
“Since I was 12 years old politics has been my life and my dream,” Murray said at his announcement in West Seattle where he lived during his childhood.
Here’s a look back at Murray’s rise from campaign manager for state Rep. Cal Anderson, D-Seattle, to mayor of Seattle, where he was known as a champion of gay rights and leader of a prosperous city resisting the policies of President Donald Trump.
Murray, now 62, got his start in politics as student-body president at Timberline High School in Lacey, Thurston County. He studied briefly at a seminary after high school, then went to the University of Portland, where he got a degree in sociology. In 1980, he came out as gay.
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In 1988 he managed the campaign of Anderson, who had been appointed a state representative in Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District and was seeking election to a full term. Anderson was the state’s first openly gay legislator. Murray went on to work as an aide to Seattle City Councilmember Martha Choe for four years.
When Anderson died in 1995, Murray ran, hoping to replace his mentor as a state senator for the 43rd District, covering Capitol Hill and more of Seattle. He lost to state Rep. Pat Thibaudeau and was then appointed to Thibaudeau’s vacated House seat.
In 2006, Murray challenged Thibaudeau for her Senate seat. She dropped out of the race and Murray served as a senator until he was elected mayor in 2013.
In the Legislature, Murray was best known for his work on gay rights, particularly his legislation to make same-sex marriage legal. As chairman of the House Transportation Committee, he sponsored legislation that included replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a waterfront tunnel.
In 2009, Murray considered a write-in campaign for mayor after political newcomers Mike McGinn and Joe Mallahan made it through the primary election. He was slated to become Senate majority leader in 2012, but was denied by a coup in the Democratic Party that made Sen. Rodney Tom the majority leader with the support of Republicans. When the Legislature was not in session, Murray worked as a project manager for the University of Washington.
Mayoral bid and marriage
In August 2013, Murray married his longtime partner Michael Shiosaki in a ceremony at St. Mark’s Cathedral. He also ran for mayor, getting through a primary field that included former City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck and current Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell.
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Murray racked up endorsements from the downtown business community, former Gov. Chris Gregoire and five members of the City Council. He faced incumbent McGinn in November and won by more than 8,000 votes.
Shortly after Murray took over the seventh floor of City Hall, he advocated for a $15 minimum wage now taking effect. He convened a committee on affordable housing that produced what he called a “grand bargain” between developers and housing-advocates. He was called “One of America’s most progressive mayors” by Governing magazine.
He launched his bid for re-election this year by announcing two new proposed taxes; a $275 million property tax for the homeless (later scrapped), and a 2 cents-per-ounce tax (since revised to 1.75 cents-per-ounce) on sugary drinks to raise money for education. Murray already had successfully advocated tax increases for parks, preschools, affordable housing and transit.
In June 2015, Murray was greeted by city employees at a festive news conference. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. “I never imagined this day,” Murray said, with Shiosaki at his side.
Despite a homelessness crisis, soaring housing costs and traffic-clogged streets, Murray appeared on a path to re-election with no politically experienced challengers until The Seattle Times broke the news last month that Murray was being sued by a man who claimed Murray sexually abused him as a teenager in the 1980s. Three other men have made similar claims.