Hollingsworth Said to Be Blocking Carlos Lopez-Cantera from Lieutenant Governor Consideration
Around the State
Talk among many Republican insiders this week is swirling around Adam Hollingsworth's alleged unwillingness to put Carlos Lopez-Cantera on the shrinking short-list for lieutenant governor.
"There are powerful supporters lobbying for Carlos, but Adam won't add him to the lieutenant governor dance card," said one Miami-Dade political adviser who asked to remain anonymous.
Though Lopez-Cantera, property appraiser for 2.5 million-population Miami-Dade County, hasn't campaigned for the job, his supporters claim he is precisely what Gov. Rick Scott needs. From 2004-2012, he represented District 113 in the Florida House of Representatives, where he served as the Republican majority leader during the final two years of his term.
The buzz is that if he's not going to get the job himself, Hollingsworth "wants somebody he can control" in place, and that somebody definitely would not be a Hispanic from South Florida.
A former Central Florida legislator told SSN that Hollingsworth, in charge of the LG "search," would be "happy with political veteran John Thrasher." Thrasher, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, like Hollingsworth is from Jacksonville.
As powerful a presence around the Capitol as he is, Thrasher likely would bring more controversy to the LG position. While he was speaker of the House, between 1998 and 2000, he pleaded guilty to three ethics violations. Hollingsworth himself is still in hot water for lying on his resume earlier in his career.
Lopez-Cantera actually makes more sense politically for Scott in terms of a running mate in November and as the point man for his legislative agenda. While he is a political veteran, Lopez-Cantera is still fairly young for one of the leading politicians in the state. He turns 40 later this month.
Though born in Spain, Lopez-Cantera grew up in Miami-Dade. He has deep roots in the community, with lifelong ties to the area, including higher education at Miami-Dade Community College and the University of Miami.
Despite coming up short in 2002 when he ran for the Florida House, Lopez-Cantera has won every election he’s faced. If Scott wants to make up ground in populous Miami-Dade, where his poll numbers have generally been low, Lopez-Cantera can only help.
A wealthy publisher in Palm Beach County, a major Rick Scott donor working anonymously, was so excited about the concept of a Hispanic running mate for the governor that he commissioned a full background investigation of Lopez-Cantera -- a complete vetting. Word is, the Miami-Dade property appraiser "came up clean" and has no "Hollingsworth" problem.
"It's Hollingsworth who has the problem," the Miami-Dade consultant said. "He wants someone who answers to him directly, who does what he's told."
Lopez-Cantera could indeed help Republicans recapture that key block of voters that slipped away in 2012. If Scott wants to reach out to Hispanic voters, Lopez-Cantera makes sense. With deep roots in the Cuban community, the Miami-Dade Republican fits the bill.
Still, few Floridians will cast their ballots based on who the lieutenant governor candidate is. Whatever his political strengths, and they are many, Lopez-Cantera could help Scott more when it comes to pushing his agenda.
First working for the Senate Criminal Justice Committee back in 1997, during his time in the House, Lopez-Cantera impressively moved up the ladder. During his third term, Lopez-Cantera was GOP whip. In his last term, he served as majority leader. Lopez-Cantera also was in solid shape with the large Miami-Dade delegation. Twice his colleagues named him delegation chairman.
Lopez-Cantera could also help Scott reinforce his image as a job creator. As the Panama Canal expansion project nears completion, the Port of Miami is set to be the hub for major economic growth. Lopez-Cantera has been a strong supporter of readying the port for the canal expansion and would be ready to argue that job creation, which has grown under Scott, will continue.
In spite of several phone calls to the governor's office, including an explanation of the reason for the calls, Hollingsworth did not respond. The communications department replied by saying the office will "take the time it needs to find the right person" for the lieutenant governor's job.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson writes exclusively for Sunshine State News. Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.