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Looking back: The Ed Murray scandal, allegations of abuse and a derailed bid for governor

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Ed Murray

Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray meets with members of the Casper Star-Tribune staff May 10, 2017, in Casper.

As the sun began to set on the two-term tenure of Gov. Matt Mead in 2017, whispers began to circulate around Cheyenne over a suitable successor to Wyoming’s executive branch.

For many back then — barring a prospective run by outgoing Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis — the natural choice would have been Secretary of State Ed Murray, an embedded member of the state’s political landscape who then was in the midst of year number four in a successful first term.

After Lummis opens field, Gordon and Murray emerge as leading potential candidates

A fourth-generation Wyomingite, Murray’s history in the state was rich and his connections deep. For nearly three decades, Murray helmed a development firm in Cheyenne, a town where he was entrenched in civic life as both a community leader and as a philanthropist. Running for office the first time in 2014, he successfully emerged from a contentious three-way primary to prevail in a landslide victory in the general election with 77 percent of the vote and, in his first term, counted a number of landmark achievements as an oftentimes vocal leader of the office.

Heading into the winter of 2018, it seemed all but destined that Murray would be one of two strong candidates — the other being eventual winner Mark Gordon — likely to compete in the Republican primaries for governor, a contest that, by today’s standards, is all but a stepping stone into the governor’s mansion.

Then, in mid December, came the revelation that would later derail Murray’s candidacy: a decades-old sexual assault allegation, outlined in lurid detail by a former intern, that eventually made its way to the national press.

“I struggle to understand what would motivate someone to make this kind of accusation,” Murray said in a statement denying the allegations. “But considering that this statement was made in the context of the #metoo movement, I want to take this moment to acknowledge the overall importance of this conversation, as well as to reaffirm my commitment to being an ally for women.”

One month later, Murray was again accused of sexual assault, taking place seven years after that first incident in 1982, which Murray also denied.

However, the circumstances were too much to ignore. The source of the allegations was the daughter of a former governor — who was 18 at the time — and the accusation, that Murray forcibly kissed her after she had babysat his child, was enough to again put Murray in the crosshairs of the national media, ending his campaign before it had ever formally started.

Murray resigned from his position as secretary of state in February, opening the door for the runner-up in the 2014 race, Ed Buchanan, to take his place. Buchanan will begin his first term as an elected — rather than appointed — secretary of state this January.

Murray, meanwhile, will go down as one of roughly 429 notable figures accused of sexual misconduct in the first year of the #MeToo movement.

Follow politics reporter Nick Reynolds on Twitter @IAmNickReynolds


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Politics Reporter

Nick Reynolds covers state politics and policy. A native of Central New York, he has spent his career covering governments big and small, and several Congressional campaigns. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport in 2015.

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