It's hard to tell whether a bizarre political shoot-out in North Carolina more closely resembles Family Feud or Family Freud. Last month Cynthia Poovey Carswell, 35, a day-care center operator, announced she would run for sheriff of Burke County (pop. 75,200) in the foothills of the Appalachians. If she defeats the incumbent, Jerry Richards, in the Democratic primary on May 6, she will be the first woman elected to the position. And if she succeeds in doing that, she may be facing an unlikely opponent in November—her father, Bobby Lee Poovey, 56, a wealthy Republican businessman. "I dread what will happen if we come face to face in the November election," says Carswell, the twice-married mother of two teenagers. Says Poovey, who is firmly opposed to her running at all, "If we get up there in November, I'll wipe her, pure and simple."

Their differences seem as much personal as political. Carswell admits that she was Daddy's girl when growing up, and after her parents divorced (Poovey has since remarried and divorced again), she chose to stay with him. But at 15, she wed an auto parts salesman and things began to sour. "My father always had the final say," explains Cindy. "Even after I was married the first time and was living next door, he spanked me if I got out of line." Poovey, who owns an industrial maintenance company and lives in a modern, 23-room house with his 15-year-old daughter from his second marriage, concedes that he was strict, but he claims Cindy was competitive from the start. "I don't ever remember her wanting a doll," he says. "She was always more inclined to want something I had and do what I was doing. And she still is that way." Poovey didn't know that his daughter was running for the $28,000-a-year sheriff's job until he read about it in the newspaper. "I thought it might be a lark to get at me," he says.

Cindy is a longshot candidate in the primary, but she's optimistic. "My father said he would like to be sheriff," she observes, "but he said that if the people did not choose him, I'd be the second best choice." Poovey is less complimentary. "I don't think it's a job for a woman," he says. "I told her early in this campaign that I'd much rather see her run the Pooh Bear's Day Care Center."