Seven months after Petal Mayor Hal Marx announced his intention to run for governor of Mississippi, the third-term Republican mayor has decided to withdraw his name from the race.
On a Facebook post made Thursday morning, Marx said he decided against the run in order to be able to offer full support for his wife, Mindy, who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after Thanksgiving.
"While her prognosis is very good for a full recovery, the treatment for this terrible disease is very rough," the post reads. "It is hard for me to watch her go through this fight, I wish I could do so much more to ease her discomfort and make her well again.
"After praying and talking it over with Mindy, I have decided that this year is not the right time for me to be campaigning for governor of our state. I owe Mindy my full attention and support. As much as I wish to serve our state, I want to be there for my wife when she needs me most. Family is always more important than politics."
Marx, who was elected as Petal's sixth mayor in 2009, said he will continue to serve the city in that capacity.
"I greatly appreciate all of those who have encouraged me to run and who have shown their willingness to be a part of my campaign," he said. "It is a humbling experience to have so many people believe in my ability to lead or great state. While this year is not in God's plan, I hope that somewhere down the road an opportunity for more public service may be available.
"Thank you to our friends and family for your support in Mindy's fight against cancer. Thank you to the people of Petal, even strangers, who have been praying for her and for us through this difficult time."
Marx, who holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master's degree in education from William Carey University, announced in March his intent to run for governor. Marx worked for six years as a journalist for a Laurel newspaper, and taught social studies at Petal High School from 1998-2009.
"I'll be running as a Republican, and I will be running as a conservative," Marx said when he announced his bid for the gubernatorial seat. "I'm very conservative in my philosophy; I believe government should do only what government is supposed to do.
"I think we sometimes stretch the reach of government beyond what it's intended for. I would like to make sure that our state handles just the affairs that are required, and we spend our money wisely and prioritize our spending."
The lineup for the 2019 gubernatorial election has not been set, but attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, has entered his name in the race. Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who has served his two-term limit, also is expected to run.
The winner will take over for Gov. Phil Bryant, who will vacate the position after serving his two-term limit.