Charlie Baker has begun to take momentum in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race despite having to contend with an independent bid from former Democrat Tim Cahill in his bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick.  No one noticed that more than Cahill’s running mate, state representative Paul Loscocco, a former Republican.  Today, Loscocco announced that he would remove himself from Cahill’s ticket — and endorse Baker’s ticket:

The running mate for Democrat-turned-independent candidate Tim Cahill in the Massachusetts governor’s race has defected to Republican Charles Baker‘s campaign today.

State Rep. Paul Loscocco (R) dropped out as Cahill’s choice for lieutenant governor today and endorsed Baker, First Read has learned. In a statement obtained by NBC News, Loscocco said he did not want to be part of a spoiler campaign.

“I cannot sit idly by as my friends and supporters cast their votes for my ticket, knowing that the best chance to defeat Governor Patrick is with Charlie Baker,” Loscocco will say at a press conference later this morning. “I cannot and will not let my ego get in the way of doing what is right for Massachusetts. Charlie Baker has the experience that can help Massachusetts head in a new direction and I’m pleased to endorse him today. This election is an opportunity to put Massachusetts back on track towards economic recovery. I urge voters who want new leadership on Beacon Hill to join me in voting for Charlie Baker and Richard Tisei on Election Day.”

That’s bad news for Tim Cahill, and really bad news for Deval Patrick.  Loscocco’s presence on Cahill’s ticket gave Patrick some hope that the indie bid would split Republicans as much as it does Democrats.  With Loscocco off the ticket and publicly joining Baker’s campaign, that will encourage those Republicans to unite, while Cahill remains to split Democrats.

But even apart from that, this is a rather unique occurrence in American politics.  I don’t recall a time when an independent abandoned a race this late to endorse one of his opponents.  That will give it all the more impact in Massachusetts, and it will mean big trouble for Patrick unless he can convince Cahill to exit the race as well.