NEW YORK — Billionaire third-party candidate B. Thomas Golisano said Sunday he was staying in New York's race for governor, ending days of speculation that he might quit and endorse Democratic challenger H. Carl McCall.
Golisano made his announcement during a paid, two-minute address broadcast Sunday night.
"A vote for me is not wasted. I have been and still am a candidate for governor," he said.
Speculation about Golisano's intentions began Thursday when his campaign began cutting back TV advertising. Since then, his campaign had been sending mixed signals. The businessman ordered his pollster, John Zogby, on Saturday to begin checking on how the race might change if he pulled out and researched the legality of endorsing McCall.
Immediately after his taped message, Golisano appeared before about two dozen supporters at his Rochester headquarters. He said McCall had asked him several days ago for his support.
"I thought about it for quite a while," Golisano said.
The billionaire said McCall is "part of the system ... and we need to change it."
Recent polls have shown incumbent Gov. George Pataki with double-digit leads over McCall, the state comptroller, with Golisano trailing in third place.
Pataki aides had maintained they didn't care what Golisano did. Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon said that if Golisano quit the race more of his support might go to McCall, but a good chunk would also swing over to Pataki.
"Tom Golisano's strange campaign is ending on a stranger note," said Pataki campaign manager Adam Stoll.
A poll from the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion released Wednesday had Pataki leading McCall, 47% to 27%, with Golisano at 17%.
With Golisano out of the race, Pataki led McCall, 54% to 33%, according to the Marist pollsters.