Two days before the polls open, unaffiliated candidate for governor Joe Visconti has suspended his campaign and endorsed Republican candidate Tom Foley in a ceremonious display of party unity.
NBC Connecticut cameras were the only ones rolling when Visconti appeared alongside Foley in Brookfield on Sunday, surprising a crowded room of Foley campaign volunteers.
"I called Tom yesterday. I took a look at the polls," Visconti explained. "I was very concerned that Tom is in the fight for his life. Connecticut is in the fight of its life."
Visconti, a conservative who failed to secure the Republican nomination, previously said he'd ride out the race until the end, but threw his support to Foley on Sunday and asked his followers to do the same.
The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Foley in a dead heat with Democratic incumbent Gov. Dan Malloy at 43 percent, with Visconti pulling 7 percent of support from likely voters.
While polling shows support for Visconti draws equally from Foley and Malloy, many believe Visconti's position in the race would negatively affect Foley on Election Day. Visconti will still appear on the ballot Tuesday, but the unaffiliated candidate hopes now to swing the vote in Foley's favor.
"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."
The announcement surprised politicians and voters alike. Visconti said none of his supporters knew it was coming and would hear it for the first time livestreaming on NBC Connecticut, the only television station present for the endorsement.
"It was just one of those things where I had to make the judgment call for the state of Connecticut. Tom will bring the jobs and the policies in," Visconti explained. "We're going to turn this around. We're going to win this and the Democrats can't stop us."
He said his role as an unaffiliated candidate has allowed him to send a message to voters that wouldn't have come across otherwise.
"I could do what other candidates that are major party candidates can't do, you can get out into the little details that I think need to be said, and so we did that, put the message out that we wanted and my people hopefully will come over because we have a lot of them," he said.
Visconti said he made the endorsement with the state's best interest in mind and was not seeking any personal gain.
"I made no deals for anything, I've asked for nothing. I didn't do this for money or the position," Visconti explained. "I've done this for the people. I love Connecticut."
“I don’t feel this is a concession of loss. We proved you don’t need taxpayers' money to make a difference," Visconti said. "But my supporters, all of them, please vote for Tom."
Foley and Visconti embraced and shook hands before Foley took the podium to express his gratitude.
"I want to thank Joe, first of all, for being a candidate and having the interest in running for office and offering change for Connecticut, the same thing I'm offering," Foley said. "He was always a gentleman on the campaign trail, has become a friend and I'm a great admirer of what he's done."
Foley added that Visconti made one small request when the two met Saturday night.
"He did ask one thing of me. And he said, 'Tom, will you invite my mom to the inauguration?' and I said, 'Joe, that's a deal,'" Foley told the room, to laughter and applause. "Anyway, thank you so much Joe. We're going to win this election on Tuesday, we're going to bring change to Connecticut, and I really, really appreciate your support."
The announcement came just hours before President Barack Obama was set to arrive in Bridgeport to rally support for Malloy, of which Visconti made mention.
"I had to wait for President Obama to be in the air to do this," Visconti joked. "I've held off for a couple days."