Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, a Democrat, announced yesterday that he will not run for governor, despite polls that indicated he had a strong lead over the two other candidates in the Democratic field.

With Blumenthal’s announcement, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy are currently the only two candidates left to compete for the Democratic nomination for governor. The winner of the primary would likely face a significant uphill battle against Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell, who had a 79 percent approval rating among Connecticut voters in a July 27 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. Rell has not officially declared her candidacy yet, though an announcement is expected on Friday.

Blumenthal’s decision to seek his fifth term as attorney general over a competition against DeStefano and Malloy comes soon after the withdrawal of Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz ’83 from the Democratic field. Byziewicz, who withdrew in early September, issued a statement saying that it was not the right time for her to run for governor.

The July 27 poll put Blumenthal’s popularity among Democratic voters at 49 percent, compared with 9 percent for DeStefano and 3 percent for Malloy. Byziewicz, who was in the running at the time, had 12 percent of the Democratic vote.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if Dick had run for governor he would have been the nominee,” Malloy said. “We are now into phase two of the campaign, which is a complete field vying for the nomination.”

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Blumenthal said he prefers to seek reelection as attorney general.

“I love this job. It affords endless challenges and opportunities to help people,” he said in the statement. “This job is also right for my family. My children are still at ages when they are counting on me to be there. I have always put family first, as I have decided to do again now.”

Shonu Gandhi ’03, DeStefano’s campaign manager, said the mayor is planning to work closely with Blumenthal in the months leading up to the primary.

“The mayor and Blumenthal have worked very closely together on a lot of different issues, so he’s going to ask him for counsel and support,” Gandhi said. “He’s an enormous resource.”

Both Malloy and Gandhi said Blumenthal had not indicated whether he would endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary.

“He said he was going to support the nominee,” Gandhi said.

With Blumenthal out of the race and Rell expected to announce her candidacy, the focus is now on the two Democrats’ abilities to raise funds and increase awareness about their candidacies. According to a campaign finance report filed by DeStefano on Monday, his campaign has already raised more than $2.5 million, with Malloy’s campaign trailing more than $1 million behind.