The leading vote getter in Tuesday's Madison School Board primary race abruptly dropped out Thursday.
Sarah Manski said in a statement Thursday she would no longer campaign for the seat because her husband was accepted into a sociology Ph.D. program in California.
"This is obviously a very positive step in his career development and important to us. It also means I will be unable to serve my full term if elected, and for this reason I am withdrawing from the race," she said.
Manski did not return calls seeking comment. It's unclear when she knew her husband was accepted to the graduate school program. Her statement said she "just learned" about it.
She received 45.2 percent of the vote in a three-way primary. T.J. Mertz received 31.8 percent of the vote, while Ananda Mirilli gained 21.7 percent.
Manski's name will remain on the April 2 ballot along with Mertz's. Mirilli said Thursday she would meet with her campaign committee to discuss a possible write-in effort.
Manski endorsed Mertz in her statement.
"He can be counted on to push back against the corporate takeover of our schools," she said. "While T.J. and I take different approaches toward our goals, I know that he will work tirelessly to look out for Madison area students."
Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger, said he will continue reaching out to voters and participating in candidate forums.
"I wish the voters had a campaign where they had choices, but if you're an elected official it's important to go out and make your case," he said.
Mertz said he's most concerned with targeting students with the most needs in future budgets and limiting use of standardized tests. He also wants to educate voters about the impact Gov. Scott Walker's state budgets have had on the school district and what the district can and can't do about it.
Despite Manski's decision to drop out, Mertz' victory is not assured. If Manski outpolls him, the seat would be declared vacant, according to Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney. In that case, the School Board would appoint a member until a successor can be elected at the next nonpartisan election in April 2014, he said.
Asked whether Manski should have disclosed the possibility of a move before the primary, Mirilli said she didn't know enough about the situation to comment.
"I am a big supporter of the democratic process, and I think everyone should know what the candidates' availability is," she said. "But things happen in people's lives."