Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s gubernatorial campaign gained its second boost since Friday, as Democratic U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro endorsed the New Haven mayor yesterday in front of the state capital.

With last Friday’s announcement by Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 that she would not run for governor, the field of announced Democratic candidates has shrunk to two: DeStefano and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy. DeLauro’s announcement was the first major political endorsement of DeStefano’s campaign, and along with the narrowing race it may make him the front-runner among announced Democrats.

“Connecticut will elect John DeStefano its next governor because as our citizens get to know him, they will learn this state needs his leadership here in Hartford,” DeLauro said according to a copy of her prepared remarks.

DeLauro spoke of years of cooperation with DeStefano as the representative of District 3, which includes New Haven.

“Whatever the issue,” she said in the press release, “whether it is securing funding for safe public housing or zero-emissions public transportation or working to lower home heating costs I know when I am working with John DeStefano, I have a partner who is prepared to fight and ready to win.”

DeStefano called the endorsement “a major step forward,” saying his campaign had gained a great deal of momentum over the past few weeks. DeStefano said he and DeLauro had worked together for years pursuing shared political values.

“Rosa has been a long-time partner in making things happen,” he said. “She has a real passion for working families, and I’m proud of her support.”

Shonu Gandhi ’03, DeStefano’s campaign manager, said DeLauro’s endorsement is the beginning of a string of endorsements that are set to occur over the next few weeks.

“There are people throughout the state ready to endorse the mayor,” she said.

DeStefano spoke little of primary opponent Malloy, instead focusing on attacking the policies and leadership of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and 11 years of Republican leadership in the governor’s mansion. He said that because of her and her predecessor John Rowland, Connecticut was last in the nation in job growth, was economically mismanaged, and had misguided property taxes that kept working-class families from owning homes.

“It’s time to make the point about the failed policies Jodi Rell has supported,” he said,

Last week’s announcement and yesterday’s endorsement makes DeStefano the front-runner among Democrats in a race still very open to upsets. Possible candidates Attorney General Dick Blumenthal LAW ’73 and Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan have not announced whether they will run, though Blumenthal has been far ahead of other Democrats in polls.

Any Democratic nominee still has to face the daunting prospect of running against Rell, whose approval rating was 79 percent in a July 28 Quinnipiac poll, the highest of any state official in any Quinnipiac poll to date. In the same poll, DeStefano was favored by 9 percent of voters for a Democratic primary, compared to 49 percent for Blumenthal, 12 percent for Bysiewicz, 7 percent for Sullivan and 3 percent for Malloy.

According to DeStefano’s campaign Web site, his campaign has raised $2.5 million so far, a number DeStefano said was “more money than any other active candidate, by about a million.” Malloy had raised about $1.3 million as of the most recent quarterly disclosure in June.