Updated: Aug. 27, 2:20 p.m.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Chair Frank Farricker said the committee expects to announce by Friday a new candidate for First Selectman.
"There's a number of people who we are talking to," Farricker said. He did rule out a run for himself as the challenger to three-term incumbent Republican Peter Tesei.
He also said that John Blankley, who unsuccessfully challenged Tesei in 2011, will not be the candidate. Blankley is one of six Democrats nominated to the six party seats on the Board of Estimate and Taxation. "John is looking forward to serving the BET and he's going to do a great job," Farricker said.
The Democrats are seeking a candidate to replace Stephanie Paulmeno who withdrew from the race on Monday, citing "smear tactics."
Farricker added, "It's probably a good idea not to float names out there ... we'll most likely have our announcement by Friday. It's full sail ahead."
Original story: Aug. 27, 5:45 a.m.
Democrat Stephanie Paulmeno has withdrawn her candidacy in the race for Greenwich First Selectman.
Paulmeno said a "smear campaign" of comments prompted her to withdraw her campaign to challenge three-term Republican incumbent Peter Tesei as Greenwich's chief elected official.
At the crux of the issue are a series of comments and emails regarding comments Paulmeno purportedly made regarding rape in a 2010 interview with Greenwich Time newspaper. Paulmeno disavows comments attributed to a Greenwich Time interview. She told Greenwich Patch that she "has no recollection" of the interview and that she, as a health care professional, has stood her ground "that rape is rape," including date rape. The reporter, Neil Vigdor, told Greenwich Patch "I stand by my reporting and strive to quote people accurately in every story that carries my byline."
Paulmeno acknowledged that her son became a registered sex offender following an incident in college—a topic she said she used many times in public health talks, that there's a difference between casual sex among teens and rape. Now, she says those comments were used to sandbag her campaign.
"Basically, I stepped down for good of party and rather than be a distraction to the other candidates," Paulmeno said. "I sent note to whole Democratic committee and ... My phone has been ringing off hook with people saying “stay, stay.” She added, “It’s hard enough to run as a Democrat in Greenwich let alone have this distraction.”
About a week ago, Paulmeno accepted her party's invitation to challenge Republican incumbent Peter Tesei who's seeking a fourth term as Greenwich's chief elected official.
Paulmeno said also she decided to end her candidacy because she didn't want to continue to "dredge up" past history involving her son. "Not with the kinds of dirty tactics the GOP is
threatening to use … I think every one is aware that my son in college got in
trouble and was on sex offender list……I talked about it at the RTM (Representative Town Meeting), high school
groups … warning people not to get in trouble when drinking….it doesn’t need to
be dredged up again …..I stood up only because (Democratic Town Committee Chair) Frank (Farricker) asked ..."
Paulmeno said she hoped to have an above-board campaign this fall as she did two years ago when she challenged Republican Steve Walko for the 150th District state House seat. "I had such a warm, friendly, respectable campaign with Steve Walko. To have two gentlemen candidates in a row was too much to wish for," Paulmeno said.
Tesei said, "I'm not commenting ... This is the DTC's (Democratic Town Committee) business. This is an intra-party issue for Democrats to resolve."
Farricker could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Could Paulmeno's withdrawal mean there's a division among Greenwich Democrats?
Greenwich Patch has learned that Farricker sent an email to DTC membership on Monday that in part said, "I have asked Stephanie Paulmeno to step down today as our candidate for first selectman, and no, it‘s absolutely has nothing to do with “blog” post, and it is not due to a Republican “smear”.
Meanwhile Paulmeno said that her involvement in the health care community in Greenwich and the region would have made her a formidable candidate against Tesei.
"I didn’t stand to cut ribbons and ceremonials with social services agencies in town, I worked with them, the United Way, Greenwich Health Improvement Health Partnership, the state mental health association that Peter (Tesei) appointed me to," Paulmeno said. "And I’m a manager … I am licensed as an administrator and I think I would’ve brought something very unique to Greenwich."
She added, "As my husband (Roger) said, 'It’s their loss.'"