Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Politics

Tampa mayor's wife a star in her own right

Open a city pool, and Tampa's mayor will be in the midst of a swarm of happy, bathing-suited kids as the cameras click. An event at a park, he's flying a kite. He's riding a bulldozer or a Segway, donning a flight suit, popping a wheelie for a new city bike program.

Bob Buckhorn is not a politician to miss a photo op.

Just the other day, touring an old courthouse soon to be a fancy hotel, he could not resist stretching out on a hotel bed in suit and tie — caught, of course, on camera.

So what do you suppose his wife thinks of all this?

Actually, Dr. Cathy Lynch didn't know about her husband's wheelie until she saw it in the paper. The day he lounged on the hotel bed? She was next door at the federal courthouse, giving expert testimony that helped convince a judge that an abortion pill slipped to an unsuspecting woman caused a miscarriage.

The doctor and the mayor turn out to be a power couple whose workaday worlds couldn't seem farther apart.

Daily he knots a Brooks Brothers tie and heads out to run Florida's third-largest city. She puts on a white coat to be (deep breath here) associate vice president for women's health, associate dean for faculty development and professor of obstetrics and gynecology for USF Health.

She's busy delivering her thousandth baby and occasionally testifying in rape cases.

And not everyone, even her patients, knows the connection between them. A family might get a Christmas card and the wife will say: Hey, that's my gynecologist with the mayor!

He gets their daughters, 8 and 12, up in the morning, makes breakfast, fixes lunches and drives them to school. She likes to do dinner, big on a-little-of-this recipes.

"Very few of my dishes are reproducible," she says, but the reviews aren't bad.

She is blond and blue-eyed, sharp and direct. She wears two tiny gold baby shoes, one for each daughter, on a chain around her neck. They are a gift from the mayor.

Their oldest is like him, by his side in a crowd, hand out, ready to shake with anyone. Their youngest is a bit more circumspect like her mother.

But wait, that wasn't Dr. Lynch's thousandth baby she delivered on a recent Monday, but one of thousands over her career. That thing a mentor used to say about doing what you love so you'll never work a day turns out to be true.

Sometimes, when it's not a parade or political function but a USF or Tampa General Hospital event, the mayor will come in and say: Today, I'm Mr. Dr. Lynch.

And there's this fun fact: When she was introduced to the brash, die-hard Democrat by a mutual friend, she was a Republican. Times change, she says. And it didn't help that after she wrote a check to a candidate, the letter that came back was to her husband, perhaps assuming he was the doctor. When they talked about her switching parties, she was ready.

"He was running for the County Commission and he said, 'I'd hate to lose by one,' " she says.

Okay, so about that rumor that one day, after being mayor and all the ensuing photo ops are no longer an option, Buckhorn will run for governor?

Who knows what can happen between now and then, what the possibilities will be, she says smoothly, and, we'd have to figure out all that entails — the doctor sounding for a minute there at least a tad political herself.

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