With less than two weeks until the June 5 Democratic primary election for governor, candidate Nate Boulton became embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal Wednesday and three of his five rivals by evening were calling on him to quit the race.
Three women had accused Boulton of touching them inappropriately during separate incidents. One woman tells the Register that Boulton grabbed her at a Des Moines bar in 2015. Jessica Millage, an attorney from the Des Moines area and a Republican, said Boulton rubbed his clothed erect penis against her thigh at social gatherings while the two were Drake University law students.
Boulton will remain a state senator for the Des Moines area.
"Regardless of the difference in my memory or the context of the situation, it is not my place to disqualify what these women felt at the time or in hindsight", the statement reads.
Boulton initially told The Des Moines Register he would not be making changes to his campaign for governor; recent polls had him 11 points behind the front-runner Fred Hubbell with just 13 days left before the primary.
Boulton, who married his second wife in 2014 after divorcing his first in 2011, released a statement shortly after the report was published that did not deny the accusations.
Boulton, 38, is in a six-way race for the Democratic nomination for governor.
The Democratic contest could be decided in a party convention if no candidate secures at least 35 percent of the vote next month.
On Thursday, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose Council 61 represents thousands of state employees in Iowa, released a statement in support of Boulton's exit.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen Thursday morning called for Boulton to resign from the state Senate. Some have also demanded he resign from the Iowa Senate, an issue he did not address in his statement.
"I think I owe it to those people who have supported me to have that vision tested at the ballot box", he said.
Sexual misconduct has gained national prominence in the past year after the #MeToo movement highlighted alleged inappropriate behavior from powerful men in media, politics and other industries.
In 2017, a former Senate Republican staffer won a $1.75 million settlement from the state after she alleged sexual harassment and retaliation at the Capitol.
Democratic Candidate John Norris also released a statement.
Several Democrats in high positions have responded to the allegations.
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