Kori Rankin is not only a first-time Lutz Guv’na candidate — she’s easily the youngest at 21 years old.
Her two opponents — Jessica Sherman, of Pinch A Penny, and incumbent Greg Gilbert, of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Lutz — are more than twice her age.
But, that hasn’t hindered Rankin from holding her own on the campaign trail.
During the May 20 Lutz Guv’na Debate at the Old Lutz School, Rankin exhibited confidence and moxie.
She shined in several debate activities, leading the alligator watermelon-carving contest and dominating a cow-chip throwing contest: She launched patties several feet further than her two rivals.
Several of her responses, during the annual tongue-in-cheek event, were memorable, too.
For instance, she advocated for a construction ban in Lutz, and recommended “unlimited wine” for every Lutz woman.
Politicking for Guv’na runs in the family.
Her stepmother, Jennifer Rankin, won the coveted “sash” in 2015 by raising more than $9,200, and she continues to stay involved in the annual Guv’na Race.
Rankin acknowledged her stepmom has provided a helping hand along the way, offering guidance on fundraising and event organization.
“She doesn’t want me to be slacking,” Rankin said of her stepmother.
The month of June will be a busy one.
After a Painting with a Twist event on June 11, Rankin plans to organize a bowling tournament and a dinner night at a local Mexican restaurant.
She also wants to partner with the GFWC Lutz-Land O’Lakes Woman’s Club on a bingo night.
Meanwhile, Rankin is drumming up cash by auctioning LuLaRoe clothing, offering 50/50 raffles, and selling “little things” like candy and drinks.
The Guv’na hopeful currently works full-time at Al’s Lawn Care Products & Services, a local business established in 1986.
She also owns her own photography and portable photo booth company — aptly named Kori Rankin Photography.
Besides mini-sessions, she’s built up a portfolio shooting everything from weddings to newborns, over the last year-and-a-half.
“I pretty much do anything and everything all across the board,” she said.
A long-time Lutz resident, Rankin has lived in the area since she was 10 years old.
She spent her early childhood in Temple Terrace. Then her family moved to Zephyrhills when she was 6, before the family settled into the tight-knit Hillsborough County community.
She —like many residents — enjoy the rustic aspect of Lutz.
“I’ve always kind of loved that it’s in the country, than in the city,” she said. “It’s always nice.”
Rankin attended Martinez Middle School and graduated from Steinbrenner High School in 2013 — the school’s first four-year graduating class.
There, she was a competitive cheerleader and member of the flag football team; she also gave track and weightlifting a shot.
“I was very athletic,” Rankin said, “and tried to play just about every sport possible.”
The Guv’na race continues through the Fourth of July weekend.
The winner will be announced after the community’s traditional parade.
The annual charity event started in 1991. More than $100,000 has been raised in the past decade alone.
The winner of the Guv’na race gets to earmark 10 percent of what he or she raises to the charitable organization of his or her choice.
If Rankin becomes the honorary mayor of Lutz, she hopes to donate to the Lutz Chiefs Youth Football and Cheerleading Organization, a league for boys and girls ages 5 to 14.
“I feel like they don’t really get anything, besides what their parents provide for them,” she said.
Published June 6, 2017