Iowa State Sen. Nate Boulton is suspending his campaign for governor.
The Democratic Party candidate made the announcement this morning. The news comes in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Boulton made by three women. The women made the allegations to The Des Moines Register, which reported them in a story Wednesday.
The three women are lawyers, two of them law school classmates of Boulton.
According to the Register, one woman said Boulton repeatedly grabbed her buttocks in a bar in 2015 while his wife was nearby.
The other women said that at social gatherings while they were in law school about a decade and a half ago, Boulton, while clothed, repeatedly pressed his pelvis into their thighs.
The newspaper named two of the women and reported the allegations of the third anonymously. The Register said the women decided to share their stories partly because of the #Me Too movement, but did not say specifically whether the newspaper had sought them out for interviews or whether the women had approached the newspaper.
Boulton, 38, who, according to polls, is running second to Fred Hubbell for the Democratic nomination to face GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds in November, apologized, but said his recollections are not the same.
Boulton was scheduled to appear in a candidate forum that night at Lake Darling near Brighton, though he did not show. He did, however, release a statement on the matter.
?I want to clearly and unmistakably apologize to the women who have come forward,? Boulton said in the statement. ?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.?
Boulton released a second state this morning, announcing his withdrawal from the race.
?These last 48 hours have been trying,? he said. ?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.?
Despite the apology he issued Wednesday, the condemnation from two women also seeking the Democratic nomination was sharp.
Nurse and union president Cathy Glasson called the reports of Boulton?s sexual misconduct ?extremely disturbing ? [and] disqualifies him from leading our state government.?
Physician Andy McGuire said that, ?It does not matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, a man or a woman, no one deserves to feel the sting of being devalued as a human being.?
She also called on Boulton to ?lead by example and end his campaign for governor.?
Both spoke of the unfolding issue in their opening statements at the Lake Darling event, which drew about 80 people from Washington, Henry, Jefferson and Keokuk counties.
At the event, candidate Ross Wilburn also called on Boulton to leave the race, saying the issue rises above politics.
And also at the forum, candidate John Norris ? a former government official ? assured voters there were no surprises in his past, though he did not call on Boulton to leave the race.
Norris noted that he had been confirmed by the U.S. Senate twice after full FBI background investigations.
Hubbell did not appear at the Lake Darling forum, either. His campaign earlier issued a short statement: ?Fred has been very clear that sexual harassment and misconduct has no place in our society and will not be tolerated.?
Boulton?s alleged behavior drew a rebuke from Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, an early backer of his.
?Iowans should not tolerate sexual harassment, and women who come forward to tell their stories show great courage,? Petersen said, who called the ?detailed and compelling? allegations a ?serious matter.?
Sexual harassment has been a recurring issue in the gubernatorial campaign and state government this past year.
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.
In March, GOP Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, resigned from the Senate after he was captured on video kissing a female lobbyist in a Des Moines bar.
A Senate clerk was fired for sexually offensive comments.
And Reynolds fired a longtime friend and director of the Iowa Finance Authority, Dave Jamison, after receiving accounts of him sexually harassing employees.
The Bouton campaign sought to distinguish the behavior described by the women quoted in the Register as different from allegations made against other men.
The alleged actions toward ?social peers in no way equates to the disgraceful actions taken by men across the country and in the Iowa Statehouse who have assaulted, harassed, and threatened women with workplace consequences,? the campaign said.
Boulton, the campaign asserted, did not act from a position of power and did not threaten retaliation. His actions were outside of a workplace context and were before Boulton held public office, his campaign noted.
Responding to the allegations is an ?embarrassing conversation for me to have today,? but can serve as lesson to others, Boulton said in his statement. ?I think it is important we have it, and I hope young men can learn about gauging conduct in social settings and continue to learn about and engage in the discussion.?