[Image via wyomingnews]
Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned last Friday in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against him. WyomingNews has more:
Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray resigned Friday following two separate allegations of prior sexual misconduct within two months.
Murray made the unexpected announcement through a statement emailed to the media just before the close of business. He said no one asked him to resign.
“After deep and profound contemplation, I am announcing my resignation as secretary of state, effective today,” the statement said. “I step aside with peace and serenity in order that I may fully focus on what is most important in my life: my marriage, my family and my health…”
It all follows speculation last fall about whether Murray would enter the race to become Wyoming’s next governor. Before the allegations, Murray told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle he was considering a run for governor, but planned to seek re-election as secretary of state should he not pursue higher office.
However, after the second allegation surfaced, Murray said in a statement he would not seek either office, though he did not specify whether it was related to the women’s claims.
In Friday’s resignation announcement, Murray said he felt he was unable to continue serving in office amid the accusations.
“I’ve come to the realization that I am unable to focus entirely on serving the good people of Wyoming while simultaneously needing to process all the fallout from these accusations for which I have issued previous statements,” Murray’s statement reads.
In reflecting on his time in office, Murray noted some highlights. His statement mentioned the electric filing service instituted during his tenure, the Wyoming Youth Voter Initiative and his role in the Panama Papers leak.
“Our Secretary of State team has accomplished more in three years than many ever thought possible,” Murray’s statement continues. “I truly am enormously thankful to the people of Wyoming for the honor and privilege of serving this great state during the past three years. I am eternally grateful to my wife and family and many friends and supporters through this journey – with its highest of highs and its lowest of lows.
“I want to thank the people of Wyoming who have offered me tremendous support during my tenure. I will never forget your lasting kindness.”
The office will be filled by appointment until this November’s general election, which already has announced candidates from both major parties:
Deputy Secretary of State Karen Wheeler will lead the office in the interim.
The Wyoming Republican Party is expected to submit the names of three people to Gov. Matt Mead, who will pick one to serve out the remainder of Murray’s term, which ends in January.
Two Wyoming residents announced this week they would seek the open secretary of state seat. Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, announced Thursday he would seek the office instead of another term in the Wyoming Legislature.
On Friday, Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle he would seek the Republican nomination.
This story has important dimensions that go far beyond the elections world, but it is undeniable that a vacancy in the state’s top elections job – for any reason – is not something that Wyoming welcomes in a statewide election year. It will be interesting to see who the Governor picks, how the new appointed SoS settles into the job and whether the vacancy has an impact on state and local preparations for voting this fall. Stay tuned…