C State Sen. George W. Della Jr., who decided against a run for City Council president, was the most prominent candidate either to drop out or to be disqualified from running in the Sept. 12 primary.
The action by Della, D-City, a short time before the 5 p.m. withdrawal deadline yesterday, left popular incumbent Mary Pat Clarke and community activist Daki Napata to vie for the Democratic nomination.
The Republican primary for council president also was affected when Roxcelanna D. Redmond was disqualified. That left Anthony D. Cobb as the lone GOP candidate for the post.
Redmond, 40, was disqualified after being convicted June 19 of assaulting a former boyfriend and harassing him with letters and telephone calls.
Della's decision not to go through with his candidacy came just 10 days after he announced his intention to challenge Clarke.
"I'm history," Della said yesterday. He said he talked with family members over the weekend and decided that "sometimes family has to come first, and this is one of those times."
State Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, D-City, said he was disappointed that Della dropped out. "He would have clearly brought up some issues related to [Clarke's] job to the forefront," he said. "But at least we shook her up for a few days."
Sources said Della decided to drop out after going to major politicos in the city and finding them committed to Clarke or unwilling to get involved in the race for council president.
"Some of the politicians George had counted on told him that it was better to let the status quo prevail on this one," said one source.
Della said lack of support was not the reason he pulled out. "I was contacted by a heck of a lot of people from all over the city willing to lend a hand in my campaign," he said.
"I feel if I had stayed in the race, I would have either been successful or at least would have raised issues that Mary Pat Clarke would have to address."
For her part, Clarke said Della would have been a worthy opponent, "but I understand his reasons for withdrawing and I honor those reasons."
Asked if Della's withdrawal was an indication that support was lacking for his candidacy, Clarke said, "We've been too busy putting our own campaign together to do any surmising on what his prospects were.
"I've already told my people that his withdrawal will not change one item on our campaign schedule, which is made up right through Election Day."
Della said he hoped that with Napata in the race "he can carry on and do the things I would have liked to do had I stayed in."
Napata, a longtime civic activist, switched from the mayoral race to a run for council president just before the July 5 filing deadline.
Clarke won 29 percent of the black vote in her successful race in 1987 and could pull even more black votes this time, observers say.
Other candidates to drop out of the primary were 1st District council candidates John Horn and Robert Parsons, both Republicans, and Raymond Dypski, a Democrat and former delegate.
In the 2nd District, Democrat Gertrude C. Bartel dropped out of the council race. Democrat Timothy J. O'Malley dropped from the 6th District council race.