Three more candidates joined the race for leadership of New Haven’s Democratic Party last week, though party insiders said Tuesday that veteran community organizer Susan Voigt will remain the likely front-runner.

Former Aldermen Alphonse Paolillo and Ron Gattison, and Arlene Davis-Rudd, who is co-chairwoman of the Ward 26 Democratic ward committee, said last week that they will challenge Voigt for the chairmanship of the Democratic Town Committee in a party election this March.

Voigt announced her candidacy Dec. 3, just days after current town committee Chairman Nick Balletto said he would not seek reelection to the post.

During this summer’s Democratic mayoral primary, Balletto broke ranks with the town committee and endorsed state Sen. Martin Looney over incumbent Mayor John DeStefano Jr. Relations between the two men deteriorated after the primary, when DeStefano defeated Looney by a 2-to-1 margin.

Many party veterans said Balletto’s decision not to seek reelection was the right one for New Haven’s Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 13-to-1 and control virtually all of the city’s elected posts.

–James Collins