Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels has dropped out of the crowded race for the Hennepin County Board's Second District seat, saying that he needs to support his wife's newly expanded role in running a neighborhood coalition group.

Samuels immediately threw his support to state Sen. Linda Higgins, the DFL-endorsed candidate in what is now a nine-candidate field to replace former Commissioner Mark Stenglein.

"It's important that we elect a person who is a true progressive. We must support a person who understands the issues our community faces. I believe that person is Linda Higgins," Samuels wrote in a message to supporters on his campaign's Facebook page.

Higgins and Samuels were expected to be top contenders in the Aug. 14 primary, which will narrow the field to two for the general election.

In an interview Wednesday, Samuels said he was disappointed to have to drop out of the race. But he said that the increasing time demands that he and his wife, Sondra, faced meant that something had to give.

Before long, he said, they would have had to get an au pair to look after their young daughters -- something he said they can't afford anyway.

"I entered the race with the full intention of going all the way ... but it turns out to be more of a sacrifice than I'm willing to make at this time," he said.

Sondra Samuels is CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, which last winter won a five-year, $28 million federal grant to boost educational prospects for children in north Minneapolis.

"She used to fill in the blanks for me when I couldn't show up or had an unexpected obligation," Samuels said. "Now the tables are kind of turned."

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455