WESTPORT— State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg has taken his name out of the race for first selectman.

Steinberg, a Democrat serving a fourth term as a state representative for the 136th District, said he couldn’t leave his post in the General Assembly because of his commitment to helping resolve the state’s $5 billion budget deficit, thus ending his exploratory committee.

“The state of Connecticut is going through very, very tough times. I know this as well or better than anybody, having served for almost seven years in the Legislature,” Steinberg wrote in an emailed statement. “I’ve committed myself to understanding the state’s fiscal situation and trying to figure out how to get out of it, causing as little pain as possible to the people of the state.”

He filed his registration of an exploratory committee on March 3, just four months after he was re-elected as a state representative. As of April 10, his committee, Jonathan for Westport, received only $100 in contributions. Republican Michael Rea’s exploratory committee has raised $375 while Republican First Selectman Jim Marpe and his running mate Jen Tooker have raised $13,930.

Steinberg also noted his duties in Hartford — which is a part-time Legislature — have increased.

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Steinberg’s statement

Jonathan Steinberg issued the following statement about his plans.

“After several months of consideration, I’ve decided to end my exploratory campaign for first selectman.

It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, because I’ve really wanted to serve Westport as its municipal executive. But, for me, it came down to the point, the meaning of public service.

I realized that I needed to put aside my personal ambitions so I could continue to fulfill my responsibility to the people who elected me their State Representative. Sure, elected officials choose to run for other offices before completing their existing terms all the time.

But this situation is different. The state of Connecticut is going through very, very tough times. I know this as well or better than anybody, having served for almost seven years in the Legislature. I’ve committed myself to understanding the state’s fiscal situation and trying to figure out how to get out of it, causing as little pain as possible to the people of the state.

Along with chairing a major legislative committee, working on the budget has consumed so much of my time. I could not, in good conscience, abandon my role - a role which has grown this session - in working on a bipartisan basis to find the best answers, to get Connecticut back on a sustainable path both economically and fiscally, to do the hard work that’s called for right now.

Frankly, whether we have a state budget within the next week or not, and It’s looking dubious, I couldn’t contemplate running an election campaign with those expectations for myself.

I still would like to be Westport’s First Selectman. Perhaps someday I will. But it won’t be this time.”

“Along with chairing a major legislative committee, working on the budget has consumed so much of my time. I could not, in good conscience, abandon my role — a role which has grown this session — in working on a bipartisan basis to find the best answers, to get Connecticut back on a sustainable path both economically and fiscally, to do the hard work that’s called for right now,” he wrote in the email.

Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Melissa Kane said Steinberg was a potential candidate who had a lot of support from the Democratic Town Committee.

“It’s certainly the candidate we had a lot of support for, but we’re in the nominating process,” Kane said. She did not disclose who has put their name in the running.

The DTC has an open nominating process, which includes a nominating committee that interviews candidates. On June 10, the open call for candidates ends and on July 18 the DTC votes on who they will officially nominate for office.

“He’s put the needs of the town and the state before his own personal interest. He is a wonderful public servant and we are incredibly grateful to him,” Kane said.

@chrismmarquette; cmarquette@bcnnew.com