Democrat Gary Downes ended his campaign for the District 18 state senate seat on Wednesday, just eight days after it began.


His decision means incumbent Sen. F. Gary Simpson will not face an opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.


Democrat Gary Downes ended his campaign for the District 18 state senate seat on Wednesday, just eight days after it began.

His decision means incumbent Sen. F. Gary Simpson will not face an opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.

Downes contacted the Milford Beacon on Thursday to announce that he officially withdrawn his name from the general election ballot early Wednesday morning.

Downes said he made the decision for “personal reasons,” but declined to elaborate.

The state Democratic Party appointed Downes as a candidate on Sept. 4, after no other Democrat had filed to run for the District 18 state senate seat.

The owner of Downes Insurance Association on North Walnut Street in Milford, Downes has twice served as the president of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford. He previously ran for the District 18 state senate seat in 1998 and 2008 and lost a bid for a Milford City Council seat in 2011.

State election officials confirmed Thursday that it is too late for any other Democratic candidate to be added to the general election ballot.

“Gary Simpson’s name will still appear on the [general election] ballot, because write-ins are allowed,” said Kenneth McDowell, director of the Sussex County Deparment of Elections. “It’s highly unlikely a write-in candidate will win, although I suppose it could happen. It’s more likely Sen. Simpson will be re-elected without an official opponent.”

Downes decision to withdraw from the race came less than 24 hours after Simpson won a Republican primary contest over Greenwood resident Matthew Opaliski by a vote of 1,537 to 717.

“It’s certainly a relief not to have to mount another two-month campaign after coming off of a primary,” Simpson said Thursday. “I’m looking forward to getting back to the business of the senate and have already scheduled discussions regarding the proposed increase in workers compensation rates, which I think will be a major issue in the state in the coming months.”

If re-elected in November, Simpson will begin a fifth term in the state senate. He would be up for re-election in 2014.