Melissa Howard, a Republican candidate for state House in District 73, announced she would end her candidacy, following days of controversy about her posing in a picture with a fake college degree.

As recently as yesterday, Howard apologized for claiming to have finished her degree at Miami Univeristy in Ohio, but said she intended to continue in her race. But she told multiple media outlets and the Republican party she would now drop out. Party leaders confirmed the news.

"She made the right decision and saved the community and the party any additional heartache," Joe Gruters, Howard's treasurer and chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota. "I hope she gets whatever help she needs. We wish her success moving forward and look forward to supporting Tommy Gregory."

Howard faced Gregory, a Sarasota attorney, in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Her name will still appear on ballots, which have already been printed, but once she officially drops out, votes her will be discarded. That leaves Gregory the Republican nominee without primary opposition. He advances to face Democrat Liv Coleman in the Nov. 6 general election