Wyoming's secretary of state, a potential 2018 candidate for governor, resigned Friday following accusations of sexual misconduct by two women dating from decades ago, marking a sudden fall for one of the state's rising Republican political stars.
"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," Ed Murray said in a statement.
Republican Gov. Matt Mead issued a short statement saying he supported Murray's decision.
"In discussions I have had with the secretary, he felt this was the right action," Mead said.
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David Bush, the governor's spokesman, said Mead will appoint a successor from three names nominated by the state Republican Party Central Committee. The successor would serve until a new secretary of state is elected this fall and sworn in early next year.
Murray was elected in 2014 to the post overseeing Wyoming's elections and corporation registrations and was considering a run this year for governor. The secretary of state is also the acting governor when the governor is absent.
But over the last two months, one woman accused him of sexually attacking her more than 35 years ago and another accused him of forcibly kissing her in front of his house after he and his wife came home on New Year's Eve in 1988. Murray denied the first alleged event and said he did not recall the second one.
Murray said that he and his family have been "devastated" by the allegations.
"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 allegations for which I have issued previous statements," he said. "At all times during my tenure as Secretary of State I've upheld the trust and fiduciary duties of my office to the highest of any and all standards."
Murray said no one had asked him to resign.