BRADENTON -- Gwendolyn Brown, a former Manatee County commissioner who had filed to run again in District 2, has withdrawn from the race.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 was featuring candidates in the District 2 commission race.
Incumbent Commissioner Michael Gallen was first to introduce himself to the crowd and outline his campaign's platform. He was followed by challenger Charles Smith, a Palmetto city commissioner.
When Brown then came to the podium, she acknowledged both candidates, crediting both with making the upcoming 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 that 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 that 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 debate that he was surprised by Brown's announcement. He added, "I'm glad she was there for the debate because she made the debate lively and brought up good points."
She had said when she announced her candidacy in March that she would like to work on helping local businesses and 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 luncheon, held 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.