NEW MILFORD -- New Milford's Democrats are short one candidate for mayor.

Democrat Jeff Winter announced late Wednesday that he is withdrawing from the race.

"I am withdrawing from the mayoral campaign due to family and personal reasons," Winter said. "I want to thank everyone for their support and wish the New Milford Democrats all the best in the fall election."

Democratic Town Committee Chairman John Lillis declined comment on Winter's withdrawal.

Republican Mayor Pat Murphy said "I wish Mr. Winter well and success with whatever endeavor he is on now and with his family.

"We'll still go forward promoting New Milford and talking about up and coming projects," she said.

DTC member David Lawson said he was disappointed to learn Winter had dropped out of the race. "It's unfortunate. It's a very difficult decision,'' said Lawson, a Board of Education incumbent running for re-election. "I hope Jeff remains involved in our community affairs."

As for whether the Democrats will seek another mayoral candidate, Lawson said, "Who knows?''

The Democratic Town Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. Lawson said he doesn't think Winter's departure from the race will affect the rest of the Democratic slate.

"I think the rest of the ticket is very solid on their own personal strengths,'' Lawson said.

DTC member Bob Coppola ran for mayor against Murphy, then in her third term, in 2009. He said raising the funds to campaign against an incumbent is "very difficult."

"Unless you have a family with means, you're tapping into your friends for donations," Coppola said. "It's hard to have big fundraisers like getting Gov. Rell to come."

Coppola said he and Winter were in the same position in that they were up against Murphy who "has been there for years, is well known and who many people like. You're trying to remove an incumbent people are not finding fault with.

"Pat's a phenomenal campaigner," Coppola said. "She's everywhere. She listens to people and when she talks to them, she's not talking about the issues, she's talking about them. That hit Jeff right away: Pat's popularity."

He added that Winter has a young family to support, and that campaigning for mayor takes time away from the candidate's profession. Even winning only guarantees two years as mayor.

"I'm sorry Jeff made this decision," Coppola said, "but he made it at the right time. Blogs are already up hitting him with quasi-truths. That's hard on your ego. But that's politics."