This story has been updated.
With Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski nearly deadlocked in recent public opinion polls, a third candidate is expected to play a key roll in the Nov. 6 election.
Political observers are saying that Richard "Oz" Griebel, a former Republican running as an independent could sift decisive votes away from the two major party candidates.
University experts, pollers and party officials predict Griebel could receive at least 6 to 7 percent of the statewide vote -- especially in Hartford County -- and more likely harm Stefanowski of Madison than Lamont of Greenwich , whose views on issues are more closely aligned with Griebel -- such as restoring tolls to Connecticut highways and supporting public education.
Others said that Griebel's inclusion in a televised debate on Sept. 26, where some polls including the Daily Voice's found him outshining the other two candidates, have helped his credibility and name recognition. He also is invited to the Tuesday, Oct. 30 live televised debate on WTNH Channel 8.
In addition, Griebel, former leader of the MetroHartford Alliance, received an endorsement last weekend from the Hartford Courant, shaking up the three-way race.
However, Griebel’s support was soft in the latest public opinion poll released on Tuesday by Quinnipiac University.
While 90 percent of voters for Lamont and Stefanowski said they were committed to their choices, half of Griebel’s supporters said they could change their minds before Election Day on Nov. 6.
“Oz Griebel is no longer in double digits. Will he end up fading by Election Day, as often happens to third party candidates? If so, that could end up benefitting Democrat Ned Lamont, who is the second choice of Griebel voters,” Quinnipiac poll director Douglas Schwartz said.
For further media insights into Griebel's potential impact on the Nov. 6 results, click here.
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