Connecticut conservative gubernatorial candidate Joe Visconti is dropping out of the race. Visconti, who was on the ballot as an Independent, is endorsing Republican challenger Tom Foley for governor.
The Hartford Courant reported that Visconti surprised everyone in a move that could boost Foley, who is in a tight race with incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy. The news of Visconti’s endorsement of Foley came as President Barack Obama was in Bridgeport stumping for Malloy.
Visconti said he was exiting the race because he didn’t want to see Malloy re-elected. “If I can’t be governor, I want to help Tom be governor,” he said.
Foley said Visconti called him in the late afternoon on Saturday and asked him to meet at Visconti’s mother’s home in West Hartford.
“That was the first time I talked to Joe since our debate in New London, so it was a surprise to me,” Foley said.
Visconti, a big advocate of gun rights, had been urged by grassroots Tea Party activists who had been his supporters, as well as state Republican leaders, to get out of the race. He said he made his decision when he observed the latest Public Policy Polling poll that showed Malloy ahead by three percentage points, with Visconti in third place with six percent of the vote. The latest Rasmussen poll has Malloy ahead by one percentage point.
A Quinnipiac poll released last week found seven percent favoring Visconti, and Foley having a one-point advantage with Visconti out of the race altogether.
“I had to pull the trigger, and I pulled the trigger,” Visconti said.
Foley has been endorsed by the pro-Second Amendment Citizens Defense League.
The Malloy campaign said Visconti’s move shows Foley will attempt to repeal the state’s new gun control laws, passed after the Newtown shooting incident in December of 2012.
“Tom Foley just doubled down on his plans to repeal Connecticut’s strict smart gun law that has made our neighborhoods, our schools and our streets safer,” Malloy spokesman Mark Bergman said. “Make no mistake, Tom Foley is in the pocket of the right wing extreme gun lobby, and today’s announcement is further proof.”