Joanna Conti

Democrat Joanna Conti entered the 2014 race for county executive last summer, but announced Wednesday she will bow out. 2013 File Photo (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun / January 29, 2013)

Joanna Conti is withdrawing from the race for Anne Arundel County executive, leaving former sheriff George F. Johnson IV as the only Democrat in the running.

Conti said she's dealing with "fairly serious family issues."

"I'm very disappointed to have to do this, but my family comes first. I've worked for four-and-a-half years to try to make a difference in Anne Arundel County and I will continue to do so in a different capacity," Conti said. She did not elaborate on her family issues.

Conti and Johnson were vying for the Democratic nomination. Both had lost elections to former County Executive John R. Leopold, with Johnson losing in 2006 and Conti losing in 2010.

Since her defeat in 2010, Conti has focused on educational issues and fundraising for nonprofits in Anne Arundel. She said she knew right away she wanted to run again and announced her 2014 campaign last summer with a focus on jobs, improving schools, cleaning up waterways and increasing public safety.

She's been a frequent attendee at county council meetings and spoke out against a controversial bill that changes retiree health benefits for county workers.

Conti said she told Johnson of her decision. "Having a well-qualified Democrat in the race made it easier to withdraw. I would have had to withdraw anyway," she said.

Johnson praised Conti for her "tireless" work for the community and wished her well.

"I wish her the very best. I hope I can call on her for support as we move forward," he said.

On the Republican side, incumbent County Executive Laura Neuman is facing state Del. Steve Schuh. Schuh was the first to publicly launch his campaign last year and had privately been building a staff and raising money before that.

Neuman has said she plans to file her candidacy paperwork Thursday as part of a day-long tour of the county to kick off her campaign.

The deadline to file to run for office is Tuesday.

pwood@baltsun.com

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