Rick Scott Announces Carlos Lopez-Cantera as Lieutenant Governor

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: January 14, 2014 10:30 AM
Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rick Scott

Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Rick Scott

At a media event in Miami Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott named Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera as the 19th lieutenant governor of Florida. The position had been vacant since March, when then-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned after news she was being investigated for directing money toward Internet cafes.

Lopez-Cantera will start his new post Feb. 3. Besides being the first Hispanic to serve in the post, Lopez-Cantera brings a decade of experience in both legislative and executive office. First elected to the Florida House in 2004, Lopez-Cantera moved up into the leadership, serving as majority whip during his third term and majority leader in his fourth and final term. Facing term limits in 2012, Lopez-Cantera successfully ran to be Miami-Dade County property appraiser.

Scott promised Lopez-Cantera will play a major part in his administration, especially on economic affairs.

“Carlos Lopez-Cantera will be a major part of our agenda to build an opportunity economy in Florida,” Scott said. “Carlos has two daughters, like I do, and he is focused on how we can transform our economy so we aren’t just creating jobs, we are creating careers and opportunities that will be here for our children and our children’s children.”

Scott also defended the 10-month search and said Lopez-Cantera will play a major role in pushing his legislative agenda. “I am confident that we took the right amount of time to find the right person to serve as Florida’s lieutenant governor,” Scott said. “Carlos’ leadership experience will make him a vital part of ensuring the passage of our $500 million tax cut package this year. And his business experience and expertise in cutting taxes and government regulations will support small-business growth and success.”

Responded Lopez-Cantera, “I am honored to have been chosen by Governor Scott to serve Floridians as their lieutenant governor. I look forward to leveraging my experience with small businesses and government tax reform to help further Governor Scott’s mission of economic growth and job creation."

The team behind former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Scott despite spending most of his political career as a Republican, jabbed the governor Tuesday, as the choice was announced.

“Our campaign is focused on putting the people back in charge and protecting the middle class from four more years of Rick Scott’s extreme partisanship,” said Kevin Cate, a spokesperson for Crist.

Allison Tant, the chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, went after Lopez-Cantera as well as Scott.

“Carlos Lopez-Cantera is the poster child for what is wrong with Tallahassee today, an ultra-partisan career politician who spent his time in Tallahassee putting big corporations and wealthy special interests ahead of middle class families,” Tant said late Monday after news broke about the choice. “By choosing a partisan product of the pay-to-play culture of Tallahassee in Lopez-Cantera as Florida’s lieutenant governor, Rick Scott is proving that he is exactly the type of politician he promised he would never be -- more interested in scoring political points than common-sense solutions to the problems facing Florida.”

Republicans cheered the pick, including former Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who praised Lopez-Cantera as someone “who works well with the Legislature and looks out for the taxpayer.”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also praised the decision.

“Governor Scott made a solid choice in appointing Carlos Lopez-Cantera as his lieutenant governor,” Putnam said. “As a state legislator, he was a driving force in reducing taxes on businesses and consumers. He was a principled conservative who served Florida well during some of the greatest challenges our state has faced.

“Carlos Lopez-Cantera is an outstanding leader in our state who will bring energy, passion and wise counsel to the governor’s office,” Putnam insisted.

Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), also praised the decision.

"Carlos Lopez-Cantera's lifetime of public service and dedication to conservative values make him an outstanding choice to be Florida's next lieutenant governor,” Curry said. “After serving in important leadership positions in the state House and as property appraiser for Miami-Dade County, Lopez-Cantera is the perfect person to partner with Governor Scott in achieving $500 million in tax cuts this legislative session to benefit Florida's middle class. Lopez-Cantera's experience with his family business matches well with Governor Scott's mission to be laser-focused on job growth and creating jobs that turn into careers. Governor Scott's decision in selecting him reflects both of their commitments to moving Florida's economy forward and investing in Florida's schools, teachers and students."

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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