BRADENTON -- Gwendolyn Brown, a former Manatee County commissioner who had filed to run again in District 2, has withdrawn from the race.
Brown made the surprise announcement Thursday at the Manatee Tiger Bay Club luncheon, which featured a candidate debate spotlighting the District 2 commission race.
Incumbent Commissioner Michael Gallen was first to introduce himself to the crowd and outline his platform, followed by challenger Charles Smith, a Palmetto city commissioner.
When Brown then came to the podium, she credited both candidates with making the coming race interesting. All three are Democrats.
"I love a good fight, especially when I win," she said. "But I'm not going to run this time."
Noting she had been in office 16 years, Brown said she decided to drop out of the race for family reasons.
Brown, defeated by Gallen in 2010, had said in March she
was running for the District 2 seat because she hadn't finished a number of projects she started. She was first elected to the commission in 1994.
Gallen said after the event he was surprised by Brown's announcement.
"I'm glad she was there for the debate because she made the debate lively and brought up good points," Gallen said.
Brown had said she would like to work on helping local businesses, creating jobs and transforming a section of the Washington Gardens neighborhood into a park.
One other candidate in the District 2 race, private investigator Corie Holmes, was not at the lunch at Pier 22 in downtown Bradenton.
The primary election is slated for Aug. 26, and the general election is set for Nov. 4. No Republicans have filed for the race.