By B.C. Manion
Suzin Carr sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in Hungarian to try to wow the crowd, while Lauren Leahey promised “free pink cotton candy and kittens” in her effort to influence voters.
The two women are squaring off against each other and against Karin D’Amico and Susan Gulash in a four-way race to win the honorary title of Lutz Guv’na.
Carr, Leahey and stand-ins for the other two candidates kicked off the annual campaign at a mock debate at the Old Lutz Schoolhouse on the afternoon of May 18.
D’Amico and Gulash had last-minute conflicts, so they sent Elisabeth Butterfield and Annette Bellingar, respectively, to fill in at the debate.
Gulash, who arrived too late to join the debate, has adopted the attitude of so many Guv’nas who have gone before. “If I get elected, anyone over 40 years old automatically becomes 20,” she said in a telephone interview after the debate.
The contest, which dates back to 1991, began as a way to raise money for community causes. As time has gone on, it has also become a way to build community spirit.
That’s what attracted Lauren Leahey, who is representing the GFWC Pasco Junior Woman’s Club. She hopes her run for the post will help recruit more women to join her group — a younger version of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club. That club is backing D’Amico’s bid for re-election.
While D’Amico couldn’t be at the debate, her campaign issued a press release noting the candidate’s desire to make history by become the first Guv’na to win re-election.
In the release, D’Amico quotes Laurel Hill Thatcher who said ‘Well behaved women seldom make history.” D’Amico notes that in the race to be Guv’na, “outrageous behavior is what it takes to win.”
Winning a second term would be especially historic this year, as Lutz celebrates its Centennial year.
Carr is also aiming for a repeat reign as Guv’na.
She pulled out the stops at the kick-off celebration, donning a black tutu and belting out her “Twinkle, Twinkle” number – wowing the crowd with her antics.
Meanwhile, her husband Jim took on a low-profile role, milling around the gathering offering patrons a chance to rub his belly and make a wish, for $1.
Several former Guv’nas and Guv’na wannabes were also there, offering their support.
Cheryl Benton lost her bid for Guv’na a few years back, but hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for the annual competition. Indeed, she even dusted off her Southern belle dress – which was the signature of her campaign – and wore it to the May 18 kick-off.
The annual Guv’na’s race is fun and helps make a real difference in Lutz, Benton said.
“All of the money goes back to the community,” Benton said.
The winner will be announced during Lutz’s annual Independence Day festivities.
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