Florida Dems Hit Carlos Lopez-Cantera for Sharing Charlie Crist's Positions

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: January 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Charlie Crist

Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Charlie Crist

Democrats and liberals made an effort in the latter half of this week against incoming Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, hitting Gov. Rick Scott’s new understudy on a host of fronts -- but they could be undermining the candidate they plan to run against Scott.

The Florida Democratic Party took aim at Lopez-Cantera on Thursday for his “ultra-conservative record” in Tallahassee, slamming the new lieutenant governor for backing cuts to the education budget, supporting energy exploration including drilling in the Gulf in 2009, backing mandatory ultrasounds for women considering having an abortion and backing “big taxpayer handouts to some of Florida’s biggest corporations” back in 2007.

“The evidence is clear,” the Florida Democrats announced in their attack. “The wealthy special interests get what they want from career politician Carlos Lopez-Cantera -- the middle class gets nothing.”

In their attacks on Lopez-Cantera, the Florida Democrats could also be hitting the front-runner for their gubernatorial nomination. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, then a Republican, served as governor in 2007 and backed the budget and incentive programs the Florida Democrats are now hitting Lopez-Cantera for backing. While he opposed drilling in the Gulf after the 2010 oil spill and after leaving the GOP to continue his U.S. Senate bid with no party affiliation, Crist supported drilling back in 2009 -- the same time the Florida Democratic Party called out Lopez-Cantera on.

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Carlos Lopez-Cantera, former state House majority leader and current Miami-Dade property appraiser, as the first Latino lieutenant governor in Florida.

While the Florida Democrats hit Lopez-Cantera for sharing positions with Crist, the Florida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) focused its fire on the new lieutenant governor’s boss. 

"We congratulate Carlos Lopez-Cantera on his appointment as the first Latino lieutenant governor and celebrate his eagerness to go beyond ceremonial photo-ops to play an active role in the state's affairs,” said Maria Rodriguez, the executive director of the FLIC. “However, we hope his position serves to create opportunities and prosperity for Florida's most vulnerable families, including those in the Latino and immigrant communities.”

Rodriguez hit Scott for “backward anti-immigrant stances, which have been perceived as anti-Latino," which include an “Arizona copycat law," “suppressing the Latino vote through voter purge efforts” and “vetoing driver licenses for Dreamers.”

“Lopez-Cantera's appointment, like Scott's previous choice, Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, both represent an attempt to win over diverse constituencies that he has thus far offended and alienated,” Rodriguez said in conclusion. “We expect Lopez-Cantera to honor this historic decision and opportunity for our community, by listening and representing his constituents. We are hopeful for what the first Hispanic Lieutenant Governor Lopez-Cantera could accomplish. In fact, the 2014 legislative session will present ample opportunities to define whether this is truly a historic appointment or just a ploy or a photo-op to win the Latino vote, while continuing to push policies that criminalize and exclude us.”

Hispanic Republicans have gone out of their way to praise Lopez-Cantera with the likes of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., praising the pick. 

“I have worked with Carlos Lopez-Cantera on many important issues and look forward to working with him in his new role as lieutenant governor,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez after Lopez-Cantera was announced as the selection on Tuesday. “I appreciate Governor Scott appointing a candidate who has such a rich history of service to Florida and commitment to continually improving our state’s business climate.”

Lopez-Cantera also won the praise of state Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens.

“Carlos Lopez Cantera is a good friend and good man. I am confident that he will serve the governor well this year,” said Braynon. “As a former legislator, Carlos knows the value of the legislative branch and the role the minority party plays in a vibrant democracy.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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