Anitere Flores a Major Factor in GOP's Future, With or Without LG Appointment
Around the State
When Jennifer Carroll resigned in the middle of March, many of the chattering class in Tallahassee assumed that Sen. Anitere Flores would be Rick Scott’s replacement for her as lieutenant governor.
Six months later, Scott still hasn’t named a lieutenant governor, but the Miami Republican remains a rising star for the Florida GOP. Despite turning 37 on Sunday, Flores is an old hand in Tallahassee, having worked as an education staffer in the Florida House before joining Jeb Bush’s team in a similar role.
After being elected to the Senate in 2010, she was named GOP whip. She currently chairs the Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee and is the vice chair on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
The senator has had a little taste of the national spotlight. Mitt Romney’s people were impressed enough with Flores that she played a prominent role in their efforts to win Florida in last year’s presidential election.
It’s easy to see why Flores won the Romney campaign’s attention. Flores is one of the most prominent Hispanic Republicans in Florida. She also is a proven winner in populous South Florida, easily sweeping primaries and general elections. Flores has also shown herself a gifted politician. For example, she played a major role in pushing an immigration bill in 2011 while stressing her opposition to bringing an Arizona-style law to Florida. Despite her leading role on the issue, Flores kept Hispanics behind her when she looked to win re-election in 2012.
Even if she is not Scott's lieutenant governor choice, Flores has options for her political future. Her name keeps surfacing as a possible Republican congressional candidate, though she has shown little desire to run against Democrat incumbent Joe Garcia. Still, this is a gifted public official who is not going away. Expect a congressional run and possible other bids for higher office in the future.
Democrats may continue to make inroads within the Cuban community and in Miami Dade, but that won't alter Flores' status, dynamism or record of political success. It will be interesting to see what she wants next, because odds are good she'll get it.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.