IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Florida candidate who wrongly said she had college degree reportedly will drop out

"I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race" Melissa Howard reportedly told a newspaper.
Melissa Howard Fake Diploma
Melissa Howard, left, poses with the diploma in question. Florida News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Republican candidate for the Florida Legislature who apologized for saying she had a college degree that she didn't complete has reportedly reversed course and said she would withdraw from the race.

Melissa Howard said in a text message to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that “I have come to the realization that the right thing to do for my community is to withdraw from the race. I will do so today,” the newspaper reported Tuesday.

"I made a terrible error in judgement," Howard added, according to the newspaper. “I am thankful for everyone who gave so much toward my success, and I am deeply sorry."

An email to Howard’s campaign Tuesday evening was not immediately returned.

Howard earlier this week said she would stay in the race "and lead by example from now on."

Howard last week posted a photo of herself with what looked like a Miami University diploma after being accused of lying about her degree. The Ohio university later sent reporters a statement saying she attended the school, but never graduated and the diploma Howard posted has inaccuracies.

Before dropping out, Howard had posted an apology on her campaign Facebook page and admitted she didn't graduate from the school.

"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," she had written.

It's too late to get her name off the ballot ahead of the Aug. 28 primary, the Associated Press reported Monday. Vote by mail ballots were sent out a month ago. The seat represents portions of Manatee and Sarasota counties, where about 20,000 Republican votes have already been cast.

While some have taken to social media to say Howard should drop out, local party officials had said the matter should be left to voters.

Kathleen King, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Manatee County, said in an email Wednesday that the party "heard from the candidate for the first time at about 6:30 p.m. last night" and that "the reports appear to be true."

The official website of Howard’s campaign appeared to have been taken down. Her name is still listed as a candidate on the Florida Department of State website.

A representative from the department did not immediately respond to an email on Wednesday as to whether she has already or will withdraw.

In her earlier statement, Howard said, "It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone." It didn't say what her intent was.