The race for Lutz Guv’na is wrapping up, but the candidates aren’t ready to pack it in.
All three hopefuls are prepping for last-minute fundraising, with some big events in the final days of the race. All the money goes to Lutz organizations, and the candidate who raises the most earns the ceremonial title. So they’re pulling out all the stops to grab as much cash as possible.
According to two-time former Guv’na Suzin Carr, that’s a good strategy to have in the last days of the race.
“The final push is huge, ” Carr said. “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
That motto came to fruition last year, when the race was decided by less than $20 out of around $9,600 raised. In the end, Dr. Cindy Perkins won the Guv’na sash by the thinnest of margins. And on July 4, she’ll hand it over to whichever of the three candidates pushes themselves over the top.
The bulk of the money is actually due the day before, July 3, at 2 p.m. After that deadline, the candidates can raise up to 10 percent more of their total between then and the Lutz Parade on July 4.
Even that final window gets utilized by the best candidates. Carr recalls raising money at the parade itself, doing whatever she could to add a few dollars to her total. When her races were finishing up, she was selling items at clearance prices and hitting up whoever was nearby for whatever they could spare.
“I was calling all of my constituents in my neighborhood and just begging,” Carr said.
By acting like she had nothing to lose, Carr earned herself a couple of big wins. She raised more than $6,000 in 2009, and more than $8,000 in 2013, making her the only two-time winner in Guv’na history.
Now she’s watching a new group vie for the title, and she’s come away impressed. All three are doing a good job of getting in the public eye and driving home the dollars, she said. In fact, Carr admitted she’d be a bit nervous if she had to face their fundraising skills.
Whoever wins the race, it’s not like the others will be considered losers. They’re all contributing to much-needed funds for local groups, and they’ll all have a say in where the money goes. Win or lose, each candidate gets to direct 10 percent of their total to whatever group they choose. A committee will disperse the remaining funds, and around 20 different organizations usually benefit from the annual event.
Here are the last major fundraisers for each of the three candidates:
On June 24, Cheryl Lynn Ayres will bring her campaign to Elsa’s Mexican Restaurant, 18450 U.S. 41., in Lutz. Starting at 4 p.m., the restaurant will donate 10 percent of the sales from anyone who states they’re supporting her Guv’na campaign. Ayres herself will be there after 5 p.m., with games and prize drawings. She’s also auctioning off prime parade-viewing space (complete with air conditioning and bathroom facilities) for the parade on July 4. Details for the auction can be found on her Facebook page (Cheryl Lynn Schmolke Ayres).
KarenSue Molis and her fellow Lutz Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club members are having an indoor flea market on June 27 at the Lutz Community Center, 101 First Ave., NW, from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. She promises to beat the heat with rock-bottom prices inside the center.
Jennifer Rankin has been auctioning items on her Facebook page (Jennifer Silence Rankin) and will host a “Shootin’ For Guv’na” clay pigeon tournament on June 27 at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, 10514 Ehren Cutoff in Land O’ Lakes. Both spectators and participants are welcome, with prizes for the winners. The event begins at 9 a.m.
Those fundraisers could mean the difference between winning and losing. But each candidate is hoping for good things, and Carr expects another nail-biter when the winner is announced on July 4.
“I will be surprised if this is not extremely close this year. These three candidates have really put themselves out there,” Carr said.
Published June 24, 2015