Gubernatorial candidate Boulton suspends campaign following sexual misconduct allegations

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Iowa Democratic governor candidate Nate Boulton suspended his campaign Thursday after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light.

The accusations against Boulton came to light in a Des Moines Register article which named Sharon Wegner of Des Moines and Jessica Millage, a Des Moines attorney.

One woman told the newspaper Boulton grabbed her buttocks at a bar in 2015. 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 erect penis into their thighs.

Nate Boulton said in a statement Thursday morning he is suspending his campaign for governor. "But I am not going to offer any additional context to this, other than to say if someone's perspective is that it was inappropriate and I crossed a line and I misread a situation in a social setting, I do apologize'. While this is an embarrassing conversation for me to have today, 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".

"I am so proud of the campaign that my staff, my supporters, and I ran in the past year", said Boulton.

On May 22, Boulton was the runner-up in a poll, with 20 percent of likely Democratic voters supporting him, trailing front-runner Fred Hubbell, who garnered 31 percent.

Senate Minority leader Janet Peterson, D-Des Moines, said in a statement there would be a full investigation into the allegations if he doesn't resign from the Iowa Senate.

Mertes said it "probably makes sense" for Boulton to resign his Senate seat. It's unclear for now if enough people had voted for Boulton to shift the outcome of the primary.

The contest could be decided in a party convention if no candidate secures 35 percent of the vote next month.

Boulton, first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2016, had been considered a rising star in the Democratic party.

In the statement announcing the suspension of his campaign, Boulton said Democrats must win in November, and he will support the Democratic nominee. The victor will take on incumbent Republican governor Kim Reynolds in a key test of whether this Republican-trending state (Donald Trump won Iowa by a shocking 9 percent in 2016) could move back to its recent status as a tightly contested battleground state.

The Register then questioned Boulton of the reports.

The organization's president, Danny Homan added: "As a union that believes in the dignity of all work and all workers, we take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously". "Those aren't my words, those are the words of Nate Boulton from the Iowa Senate floor", said Bertrand, who noted that Boulton criticized former Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix and Senate Republicans for sexual misconduct on multiple occasions during floor speeches in the past legislative session. Reynolds has been criticized in recent months for how she handled the March firing of a longtime political ally, Dave Jamison, who was accused of harassing female subordinates for years while he served as the head of a state housing agency.

Several Democrats in high positions have responded to the allegations.