TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA) – A day after vowing to stay in the campaign while acknowledging she faked a college diploma and would “lead by example from now on,” Republican Melissa Howard withdrew Tuesday from a race in Southwest Florida’s House District 73.READ MORE: Attorney: School Gunman Nikolas Cruz To Plead Guilty To Massacre; Parkland Families React
“I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race,” Howard said in a statement released to media organizations. “I made a terrible error in judgment.”
The move by Howard, a medical trade-show owner from Sarasota, means Republican Tommy Gregory of Sarasota will move from the primary to the general election.
Gregory will face Bradenton Democrat Liv Coleman for the Republican-leaning seat, which includes parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties.
The seat is open because Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, is running for state Senate.READ MORE: Nikolas Cruz Pleads Guilty In BSO Jail Guard Attack
On Monday, Howard acknowledged she faked her diploma to cover a story about graduating from Miami University in Ohio.
But she also indicated at the time that FLA News Online’s uncovering of the deception wouldn’t drive her from the contest.
“I would like to apologize to my family and my supporters for this situation,” Howard posted Monday afternoon on Facebook.
“It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on.”MORE NEWS: Parkland Survivor David Hogg On Potential Guilty Plea: 'It's Horrific That Our Community Has To Continue Going Through This'
The Department of State as of late Tuesday afternoon had not received notice of Howard’s withdrawal from the race.