State Senator Ed Murray (D-43), who was considering a write-in campaign for mayor at the encouragement of union leaders last week, says that an eleventh-hour campaign would be too difficult. He just issued the following statement:

While I am deeply concerned for the future of our city and Michael and I are honored to have been approached by so many people and organizations we admire and respect, I am also a realist: write-in campaigns are extremely difficult, and time is short. Also, the recognition yesterday that Referendum 71 will appear on the fall ballot galvanized my decision.

I considered a write in campaign because I was concerned that one candidate wanted to reopen a fight with the state when we need to work together. The other candidate who seeks to become our civic leader has failed to engage in civic activities including on the most basic level, voting, something Americans in the south have died for in our lifetime.

I considered running because I believe Seattle is greater than the selfish conversation in the Mayor’s race. Missing are issues and leadership on social justice. Issues of poverty and civil rights. This campaign to date has been about one bridge and one neighborhood. Issues such as our schools, neighborhoods and diversity are missing from this debate.

I urge the candidates to broaden their messages and address the critical issues facing our city and look forward to working with one of them as our next mayor."

In addition to the number above, Murray will be available at Drinking Liberally this evening.

Despite the tongue lashing, this is a fantastic development for mayoral contenders Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn, who wouldn't want to face a union-backed, well-connected progressive in the race. But it does pose the question: Who will the unions cozy up to now? Mallahan or McGinn (who unions have expressly rejected) will have to struggle to earn their support. But whichever candidate gets SEIU, the labor council, and other labor leaders in their clan will have a major fundraising and grassroots advantage. So far, Mallahan is winning the contest—today he will celebrate getting the Seattle police guild's and local firefighters union's endorsements.

UPDATE AT 11:53 AM: And here's Mike McGinn's response:

I respect Senator Murray's decision to not enter the race for mayor. Eight days ago, I welcomed him to the race saying "Seattle deserves a great debate." Despite Sen. Murray's decision not to run, I believe we can still have that great debate and give voters smart and clear choices.

In his statement today, Sen. Murray called for a broader discussion on issues like social justice, poverty, civil rights, schools, neighborhoods and diversity. He's right. There is a wide array of complex issues facing our city. Over the next several weeks, I will be meeting with leaders in these communities, listening and proposing a clear set of positions and plans.

Finally, the threat posed by opponents to civil rights, cannot be underestimated, and it will take a smart and dedicated campaign to pass R-71. I look forward to closely working with Sen. Murray and other leaders in our city to make sure we do everything possible to maximize the vote coming out of Seattle for this important measure.

So the other question: Who will Murray endorse?

UPDATE AT 12:23 PM: Here's the Mallahan statement:

I have great respect for Sen. Ed Murray and the leadership role he played to provide domestic partnership benefits for everyone in Washington state. I respect his decision to not run and look forward to working with him in the future.