Independent candidate, ex-1st lady Zavala leaves Mexico race

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Independent candidate, ex-1st lady Zavala leaves Mexico race
FILE - In this April 22, 2018 file photo, former first lady and independent presidential candidate Margarita Zavala waves to the press before the first of three debates among Mexico’s presidential candidates in Mexico City. Zavala said on Wednesday, May 16 that she is dropping out of the country’s July 1 presidential race. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican independent candidate and former first lady Margarita Zavala announced Wednesday she is dropping out of the country’s July 1 presidential race.

Zavala had broken her longtime affiliation with the conservative National Action Party and qualified for the ballot as an independent.

But she has been polling in the single digits, fourth in the race and far behind the three leading candidates.

Zavala made the announcement in a program taped for broadcast later Wednesday, but did not endorse any other candidate.

“I am withdrawing my candidacy on the principle of political honesty and a sense of congruency, but also to free up those people who have so generously supported me so that they can make the decision they need to make in this difficult race,” Zavala said in a taped interview with the Televisa network.

National Action has joined in a right-left alliance with the Democratic Revolution Party, and the candidate of that coalition, Ricardo Anaya, had been courting Zavala’s supporters.

Zavala’s husband, Felipe Calderon, was president from 2006 to 2012.

Four other candidates remain on the ballot. Polls indicate that leftist Andres Manuel Lopez holds a comfortable lead in the race.