BRADENTON – Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen lost a three-way Democratic primary on Tuesday for the district 2 seat he won in 2010. Palmetto City Commissioner Charles Smith received 1,029 votes to Gallen's 1,024, while Corie Smith pulled in 884 votes. With only a write-in candidate left in the November election, the winner will effectively secure the seat with the primary victory.
Provisional ballots had yet to be counted, and the close margin will likely trigger a recount. Smith, who is very popular in his urban Palmetto district, criticized Gallen's first term, saying he hasn't seen any changes in his city during the four years. Prior to being elected to the Palmetto City Commission in 2012, Smith served on the Palmetto CRA advisory board.
Gallen was elected to the seat in 2010 when he defeated 16-year incumbent Gwen Brown, who had held the seat since the district was first drawn. Despite an overwhelming fundraising disadvantage and a vicious attack campaign funded by developers who'd long supported Brown, Gallen was able to win the race, which was an open primary between two Democrats. He was a strong favorite to win reelection.
Despite district 2 continuing to face challenges as an aging urban, poverty-mired district, Gallen has been able to accomplish an impressive list of successful initiatives, even though he is the lone Democrat on the 7-member board. Smith campaigned that he will do more to incentivize economic activity and bring new businesses to the district.
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