LUTZ — Suspense is building in the Lutz Guv'na race. The main question: How much money will the winner pay to "buy" the office?
Candidate Brian Vindick said he didn't have much luck organizing fundraisers and Robin LeBlanc had shoulder surgery, which interrupted her efforts. Could Connie Dorton or Karin D'Amico prevail?
As so often happens in real life, the pol who raises the most money wins.
The community doesn't really care about candidate platforms or promises, no matter how incisive. Many will be too focused on July Fourth festivities when the Guv'na is announced after the parade.
The theme for Lutz's Independence Day events has changed — it's "Live it up in Lutz" — but everything else will be much the same as in recent years, said parade organizer Phyllis Hoedt.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. Wednesday on Crooked Lane Road and proceeds east along Lutz Lake Fern Road toward the business district. Bleachers will be set up in the parking lot of the Lutz Branch Library. For others, the fun will come with the 5K run; 1-mile run and family walk. A flag-raising ceremony, cake auction and barbecue chicken lunches are also on tap.
As for the politics of it all, "I'm promising not to make any promise unless I need to make a promise,'' declares D'Amico. She is selling two cabinet posts: the administration's "Administrating Administer'' and the "Non-commissioned Commissioner of Commissions.''
"For a fee you can do this.''
The noble foolishness of becoming Guv'na has been going on for about 20 years. The money candidates raise is made available to Lutz area schools and nonprofit organizations.
The candidate raising the most is declared Lutz Guv'na for a year, with all the benefits that such a moniker implies — essentially a red-and-white sash and the right to brag.
D'Amico, representing the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club, has held a wine tasting event and recruited Charming Charlie restaurant in Citrus Park as a sponsor.
Connie Dorton, a stay-at-home mother of three, has hosted a Jell-O shots party, organized a raffle and talked the Red Elephant Pizza & Grill of Carrollwood into being a sponsor. She suspects D'Amico, with the backing of the influential club, is the front-runner, though "we have good chance of winning.''
Vindick, who runs Philly Cream of Tampa, a Lutz ice cream shop, figured entering the race would help his business and the community. He's contributing a portion of sales to the effort, but attempts to draw volunteers to help with a carwash fundraiser have not been successful.
And LeBlanc, owner of Good Behavior Dog Training, inspired volunteers who earned money for her campaign by doing yard work at Brooksville's Saxon Manor, operated by a friend. LeBlanc plans to hold a dog wash to raise more.
LeBlanc entered the Guv'na race, she says, because of some arm-twisting by organizer Suzin Carr, a past Guv'na.
"She has a sling on to prove it,'' says Carr.
LeBlanc, recalling a bright spot in the campaign, brags that she got to hit Carr's sister with a cow pie. It happened in May, when candidates and their stand-ins held a debate and cow patty toss.
Carr's sister, Jyl Mayall, from Jupiter, stood on the sidelines watching all the fun when Le- Blanc's errant toss caught her solidly. Mayall squealed, Carr says.
"Her reaction was hysterical. She was just covered.''
It's one of the risks of standing too close to a political debate.
Philip Morgan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3435.