In the eleventh hour, unaffiliated conservative candidate Joe Visconti gifted the Tom Foley campaign with a much appreciated present. Visconti announced his decision to drop out of the race on Sunday, urging his supporters to pull the lever for Foley on Tuesday.
Businessman Tom Foley is locked in a razor-thin battle with Democratic governor Dan Malloy, and Visconti's decision could make all the difference.
The race is within the margin of error in all recent polls. Over the weekend, Rasmussen and PPP both released surveys — Rasmussen gave Malloy a 1-point lead (48 to 47 percent) and PPP gave Malloy a 3-point edge (44 to 41 percent).
Rasmussen didn't include Visconti, but PPP showed Visconti earning 6 percent of likely voters' support. Similarly, Visconti received 7 percent in last week's Quinnipiac poll, with Malloy and Foley tied at 43 percent. Without Visconti, Malloy still led Foley by 3 points in the PPP poll, while Foley led Malloy by 1 point in Quinnipiac's poll.
Visconti stated the PPP data was the deciding factor for him. From NBC Connecticut:
"I was very concerned that Tom is in the fight for his life. Connecticut is in the fight of its life"....
"He's a great man and I know he's going to be the next governor. I told him that last night," Visconti said. "We know we have over 100,000 people that are supporting me. We do know that. I need every one of them to not vote for me. I need them to vote for Tom. We need every vote we can get. We will take the state back. We will end the liberal agenda that's across America."
With his dramatic ads and shirtless Facebook photos, Visconti, a former actor, has provided colorful headlines throughout this election season. Visconti campaigned primarily on the issues of gun rights and Common Core opposition.
For months, he had received calls from local Republicans and Tea Party activists to throw in the towel. Many of them labeled Visconti a "spoiler."
The most prominent gun rights organization in the state, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, endorsed Foley over Visconti in August. "I am very happy to hear that he is stepping aside," Scott Wilson, the group's president, told me on Sunday.
Though Visconti is suspending his campaign, his name will still appear on the ballot. Foley's backers hope there's enough time to get the word out and make sure Visconti's voters turn out for Foley.