News Section: 2012 Election Results
Baugh to Join Benac on Manatee County Commission
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Vanessa Baugh (R) defeated former Bradenton City Councilman and Congressional cadidate James Golden (D) 65-35 percent to win the Manatee County BOCC District 5 seat. Baugh will join Betsy Benac who won an at-large seat in the Republican primary and faced only a write-in challenge in the general election, as new members on the 7-seat board. Benac's race featured the highest undervote (voters who turned in a ballot, but skipped that race) among countywide contests at about 37,000 votes, while there were also just under 6,000 write-in votes, again more than any other countywide race.
Baugh, a Lakewood Ranch jeweler who received strong support from entities related to the community's developer, Schroeder Manatee Ranch, was the first candidate to file for the race and campaigned for nearly two years. She will replace incumbent Donna Hayes who is vacating the seat after dropping out of the Republican primary following an incident in which she was cited for careless driving and failure to immediately report a traffic accident, when she hit a car in front of her on the way to a hair appointment and then fled.
Benac, who took leave from builder Benderson Development to campaign, was also funded primarily by developer interests. She defeated 22-year incumbent Joe McClash in a nasty Republican primary by less than 1-point, after spending well over a hundred thousand dollars in campaign and PAC money. The two seats give the board a solid builder-friendly majority, while further reducing the minority vote of what might be called the smart-growth bloc.