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Embattled House Candidate Drops Out Of Race


A candidate for a state House seat in Manatee and Sarasota counties who admitted she posted a fake diploma on her website is dropping out of the race.

Melissa Howard, a candidate for House District 73, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune she won't participate in the upcoming Republican primary.

Howard said in a text message to the newspaper: “I made a terrible error in judgment. I am thankful for everyone who gave so much toward my success, and I am deeply sorry.”

Her withdrawal came a day after she admitted to posting a photo of a fake diploma from Miami University of Ohio. The university that doesn't even offer the degree she claims to have received.

The move apparently means Tommy Gregory will run unopposed in the Republican primary and will face off against Democrat Liv Coleman during the general election in November.

The Herald-Tribune is reporting Howard’s name still will be on the ballot but Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner said there will be notes at polling locations – and included with any absentee ballots requested after she officially withdraws - telling voters that a vote for Howard will not count.


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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