The announcement by Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 Friday that she is dropping out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary has intensified the focus on the remaining hopefuls, including New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

Bysiewicz’s choice to withdraw from the race in order to run another term as secretary of state in November 2006 leaves DeStefano and Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy actively pursuing the Democratic nomination, although Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Lt. Governor Kevin Sullivan have not yet announced whether they will run.

Bysiewicz wrote in an e-mail to supporters she would continue to work on the issues she raised in the campaign, including improving public trust in government, expanding health insurance and improving education. Bysiewicz also did not rule out a future run for the governor’s office.

“At some point in the future, I may have the opportunity to work on these issues from the Governor’s office,” she said. “The time is not now.”

Both Malloy and DeStefano issued statements praising Bysiewicz after she withdrew from the race. In a Weblog created for his campaign, Malloy said Bysiewicz’s withdrawal will intensify the debate between himself and DeStefano.

“In the now two-way primary, I believe there is an exceptional opportunity for a substantive, open, and exciting dialogue over the great issues of our day,” Malloy said.

DeStefano said his focus was not on internal Democratic politics, but rather on the prospect of defeating the Republican candidate, who may be incumbent Gov. M. Jodi Rell, in the general election.

“I’m just very focused on defeating the Republican policies of the past 11 years,” DeStefano said. “I don’t think much about who’s in or out on the Democratic side.”

Bysiewicz’s withdrawal creates an opportunity for both him and Malloy to recruit donors and supporters from Bysiewicz’s camp, DeStefano said.

“It’s an opportunity to consolidate the hugely successful effort we’ve made to recruit donors for financial support,” DeStefano said.

According to the most recent reports, issued in July, DeStefano leads Malloy in terms of fund raising, having raised $2.2 million for the campaign compared to Malloy’s $1.2 million. Before exiting the race, Bysiewicz had raised $1.7 million.

Brendan Gants ’08, campaigns coordinator for the Yale College Democrats, said the group has a policy of not campaigning or endorsing candidates in primaries so there have not been official discussions of the candidates among members of the group. But members of the YCD met with Malloy and Bysiewicz at the College Democrats of Connecticut conference in the spring, and DeStefano spoke at the group’s meeting last week.

“We met with all of the candidates, and we have made opportunities for our members to get involved in those campaigns,” Gants said.

He said he did not know of any member of the group who was active in Bysiewicz’s campaign before she stepped out of the race.