ALBANY, N.Y. – With support for a run eroding, Republican Bill Weld will drop out of the race for New York governor, according to two sources informed of the decision.
The former Massachusetts governor ended his effort to be the first man since Sam Houston to be the governor of two states after he was defeated last week in a quest for the party designation against John Faso, the former Assembly minority leader.
Weld decided Tuesday morning to drop out, said the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Weld wanted to make the announcement publicly himself. Weld scheduled an 11:30 a.m. press conference at his Manhattan headquarters.
The more socially moderate Weld lost to the more conservative Faso by campaigning as the Republicans' best chance to win in November in the heavily Democratic state. But many of Weld's supporters who urged him to run, including state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik, on Monday encouraged him to drop out.
Faso had just over 60 percent of the weighted vote at the state GOP convention on Long Island Thursday while Weld had under 40 percent. That assured Weld a spot on the ballot in a September primary. But Weld's decision means the Republicans won't have to divide their support and fundraising for a primary against Democrat Eliot Spitzer or Tom Suozzi.
Spitzer leads all candidates in polls and fundraising.
Weld spokeswoman Andrea Tantaros and Republican state Committee Executive Director Ryan Moses refused to comment or confirm the decision.
Independent pollster Lee Miringoff said the Weld decision will allow Faso to set his sights clearly on the general election.
"Faso has to get people to start noticing and paying attention, and he needs to raise a lot of money in a hurry," said Miringoff, head of Marist College's Institute for Public Opinion. "That's probably why getting Weld out of the picture works for him."
And, Miringoff said the Weld decision allows the real battle to begin.
"The game plans can now be shaped and the strategies can be developed. The campaign effectively starts," he said.
The decision came as a surprise because Weld has repeatedly said he wouldn't drop out.
Weld, who gained the Libertarian Party endorsement, was still gaining some support Tuesday. St. Lawrence County Independence Party Chairman Lee J. Monnet broke ranks to support Weld of his party's choice, Spitzer.
"Many non-enrolled and Independence Party voters should find Weld appealing as the outsider with experience versus insiders Faso and Spitzer," said Libertarian state Chairman Richard Cooper in a press release before Weld's announcement.
The Independence Party, the state's third largest, endorsed Spitzer on Saturday.
"I support the Libertarian candidate William Weld for governor because I feel Mr. Weld is most suited to bring economic and political reform to New York state," Monnet said before Weld's announcement.