DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A popular Democratic candidate in Iowa's crowded race for governor on Thursday suspended his campaign, one day after an Iowa newspaper reported three women had accused him of sexual misconduct.
Nate Boulton, a Des Moines attorney and state senator, announced his exit in an emailed statement. He alluded to the accusations reported Wednesday in The Des Moines Register.
"These last 48 hours have been trying. I again offer an apology to those whom I have harmed in any way. It is my hope there is some positive that can come from this moment as we strive to be the better people we can be in the coming days, weeks, months, and years. I know that will be my task moving on from here."
The women told the newspaper that Boulton touched them inappropriately during separate incidents several years ago. One woman alleged Boulton repeatedly grabbed her buttocks at a bar in 2015. Two other women said he rubbed his clothed crotch against them in separate incidents more than a decade ago.
Boulton, 38, did not deny the accusations and apologized to the women in a statement. But he attempted at first to argue the alleged incidents did not equate to more serious instances of misconduct.
Boulton's departure comes less than two weeks before the June 5 Democratic primary for governor. Five other Democrats are seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in the November midterm election, and the race is seen as a measure of whether Iowa Democrats are recovering after several years of Republican victories in the state.
Boulton, first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2016, had been considered a rising star in the Democratic party. His speeches against Republican-backed legislation on workers' rights made him a favorite of labor unions. Many financially supported his campaign and endorsed him.