Updated 1:08 pm, Thursday, August 11, 2011
New Milford's Democratic Party is short one candidate for mayor.
Democrat Jeff Winter announced late Wednesday he is withdrawing from the race.
"I am withdrawing from the mayoral campaign due to family and personal reasons," Mr. Winter said. "I want to thank everyone for their support and wish the New Milford Democrats all the best in the fall election."
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," she said, "and talking about up and coming projects."
DTC member David Lawson said he was disappointed to learn Mr. Winter has opted against remaining a mayoral challenger.
"It's unfortunate. It's a very difficult decision,'' said Mr. 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 to find another mayoral candidate, Mr. Lawson said, "Who knows?''
The Democratic Town Committee is scheduled to meet on Aug. 16.
Mr. Lawson said he doesn't think Mr. 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,'' Mr. Lawson said.
DTC member Bob Coppola ran for mayor against Mayor Murphy, then in her third term, in 2009. He said raising the funds to mount and running a campaign unless one is the incumbent is "very difficult."
"Unless you have a family with means, you're tapping into your friends for donations," Mr. Coppola said. "It's hard to have big fundraisers like getting Gov. Rell to come."
Mr. Coppola said he and Mr. Winter were in the same position, up against Mayor 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," Mr. 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," Mr. Coppola said.
He added Mr. Winter has a young family to support and to campaign for mayor means giving up time from his profession.
Even at that, he'd be taking the chance on only a two-year guarantee of having the mayoral job.
"I'm sorry Jeff made this decision," Mr. 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."