First Congressional District candidate Martin Skelly said Monday he got in the race to ensure there would be a credible Democratic candidate seeking Tim Scott’s old House seat.

But when Elizabeth Colbert-Busch later entered the race, it became clear to Skelly that she stood the better chance, so he ended his campaign.

“At the end of the day, you’re either in it for the party, for the right reasons, or you’re in it for yourself,” he said. “I think it was a fairly easy decision.”

His move comes just two weeks before Colbert-Busch’s famous brother, comedian Stephen Colbert, is to appear here at a fundraiser for his older sister.

It also comes less than a week after he spent a few minutes during his “The Colbert Report” show touting the candidacy of his sister, whom he calls “Lulu.”

Skelly said his only chance would have been to turn the primary into a divisive one, but both he and Colbert-Busch said the campaign has been harmonious so far. She said Monday she was “delighted” with Skelly’s decision.

To highlight the national issue of Super-PACs — legal organizations that can flood campaigns with corporate money — Colbert created his own Super-PAC.

But Colbert-Busch said she won’t see a dime of it: All has been donated to Habitat for Humanity, Hurricane Sandy relief and the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

Skelly said he was happy to get out of the race partly because he believes in more female representatives, but he acknowledged his opponent’s brother’s fame played a role, too.

Skelly said potential donors would not pay as much to mingle with his brother, who currently serves as superintendent of the Palo Alto (Calif.) Unified School District.

Colbert-Busch still faces another Democratic challenger, perennial candidate Ben Frasier, in the March 19 Democratic primary.

That winner will face whoever emerges from the 16-way GOP field, plus possible third-party candidates, in the May 7 special election.

Scott’s former seat is expected to remain in Republican hands, as Mitt Romney defeated Barack Obama by almost a 3-2 margin in the 1st District last fall, but Colbert-Busch struck an optimistic chord.

“I’m convinced this is our time,” she said.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.