MANATEE — There wasn’t much middle ground in the race between Democrats Michael Gallen and Gwen Brown for the Manatee County Commission District 2 seat, an analysis of primary voting revealed Thursday.
The precincts that backed Gallen were firmly behind the political newcomer who would go on to claim a convincing win Tuesday night. And the precincts partial to Brown turned out to show unwavering support for the 16-year commission veteran.
Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat released vote tallies for the county’s 139 precincts Thursday.
Of District 2’s 25 precincts, 11 handed at least 70 percent of the vote to one of the candidates. Of those precincts, Gallen won seven on his way to taking the overall vote, 3,606 to 2,845, or 55.9 percent to 44.1 percent.
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Interestingly, though, the race was that close in only two individual precincts, the polling places at Manatee Baptist Church and Pirate City, both in Bradenton. Their voters supported Gallen with 53.6 percent and 52.2 percent of the vote, respectively.
Brown’s loyal precincts were the most one-sided. The polling place at Palmetto Youth Center — Brown lives in Palmetto — handed her 253 of 267 votes for 95 percent. Palmetto’s St. John’s First Baptist Institutional Church polling place gave her 84.4 percent of its votes.
Gallen’s best showing was at Bible Baptist Church in East Manatee, where he won 79.1 percent of the vote. He also did well in downtown Bradenton, Ellenton and extreme north county.
Unfortunately for Brown, Gallen’s most supportive precincts turned out a higher percentage of voters. The average turnout at Gallen’s seven polling places was 24.2 percent to 20 percent at Brown’s four precincts. The turnout for the race at large was 20 percent.
Because there were no other candidates in the race, Gallen’s primary victory gave him the seat.
Meanwhile, in the other county commission race, Republican primary winner Robin DiSabatino’s strategy of campaigning hard early in the District 4 race to hit probable absentee and early voters paid off.
Absentee voters handed her almost all of the margin of victory in an extremely tight race against rivals Norm Luppino and Tim Norwood.
DiSabatino collected 540 absentee votes to 381 for Luppino and 347 for Norwood. Without absentee votes, DiSabatino would have defeated Luppino by three votes and Norwood by 61.
Early voting illustrated how close the race was. Luppino collected 87 early votes, DiSabatino, 86 and Norwood, 85.
DiSabatino will face Democrat Roger C. Galle in the Nov. 2 general election.
Absentee voting also made a difference in the closest Manatee County school board race.
Julie B. Aranibar collected 5,286 absentee votes to incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker’s 4,561 in the District 3 contest. That gave the challenger more than enough to win the overall election by just 246 votes.
The two will square off again in a runoff Nov. 2.