Scott taps Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor

By By BRANDON LARRABEE, The News Service of Florida
Published On: Jan 14 2014 04:41:04 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 05:49:19 PM EST

AP photo by Wilfredo Lee

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera laughs while speaking at a news conference after
Florida Gov. Rick Scott named him lieutenant governor and his running mate for 2014.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

In a bid to boost both his legislative agenda and his political standing, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday named former House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor, with the appointment coming just over 10 months to the day after Jennifer Carroll resigned from the post.

Lopez-Cantera, a Republican who became Miami-Dade County property appraiser after leaving the House, is believed to be the first Hispanic lieutenant governor in Florida's history. He brings eight years of legislative experience to Scott's administration, a contrast to the governor's background as a businessman who ran against the GOP establishment in the 2010 primary.

"I am confident that we took the right amount of time to find the right person to serve as Florida?s lieutenant governor," said Scott, who was recently sued over the length of the search for Carroll's replacement. "Carlos? leadership experience will make him a vital part of ensuring the passage of our $500 million tax-cut package this year."

Carroll, who co-owned a company that previously provided consulting services for Allied Veterans of the World, resigned March 12 after that organization emerged as the central target of an illegal gambling investigation. Carroll was never charged with wrongdoing in the probe.

During a press conference with Scott in Miami, Lopez-Cantera said he was "looking forward to getting involved in the action in Tallahassee, very excited about getting involved in getting $500 million back into the pockets of the citizens of the state of Florida."

Legislative Republicans praised Lopez-Cantera's selection.

"He is a well-respected leader who maintains strong relationships with the business community, local and community leaders, legislators and constituents," Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a statement issued through Scott's office. "I have no doubt his breadth of legislative experience will help Governor Scott move his priorities forward."

Democrats were less kind, slamming Scott for allowing the office to stay open for as long as he did. They have suggested Scott had difficulty finding a lieutenant governor because of his political struggles.

"It took him 10 months to find someone to finally take him up on his offer to be LG," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in an interview with The News Service of Florida. She said Lopez-Cantera would be Scott's "lobbyist-in-chief."

Lopez-Cantera, who was born in Spain but is of Cuban descent, could also prove helpful to Scott in his bid for-re-election. In 2010, Scott rankled many Hispanic voters -- including Lopez-Cantera -- with his embrace of a tough Arizona law aimed at illegal immigration.

Lopez-Cantera was quoted at the time as raising concerns about the measure's impact on civil liberties.

Scott also came under criticism for vetoing a measure that would have allowed paperwork from President Barack Obama's "deferred action" program to serve as proof of identity or legal presence for driver's license applications. That program grants two-year non-deportation promises to undocumented immigrants under 30 who meet certain conditions.

The pick comes against the backdrop of eroding support for Republicans among Cuban-American voters. A pair of studies in the wake of the 2012 elections suggested that Obama had made deep inroads among Cuban voters in South Florida.

"Carlos is a popular politician who will help the governor somewhat with the Hispanic vote," said Dario Moreno, a political science professor at Florida International University. "The governor still has to do more, but this is a good first step."

But Tant brushed that off.

"I think the Hispanic voters of Florida are smarter than that," she said.

WAIT IS OVER: SCOTT TAPS LOPEZ-CANTERA AS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

By BRANDON LARRABEE
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Posting or forwarding this material without permission is prohibited. Contact news@newsserviceflorida.com.

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, January 14, 2014..........In a bid to boost both his legislative agenda and his political standing, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday named former House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera as lieutenant governor, with the appointment coming just over 10 months to the day after Jennifer Carroll resigned from the post.

Lopez-Cantera, a Republican who became Miami-Dade County property appraiser after leaving the House, is believed to be the first Hispanic lieutenant governor in Florida's history. He brings eight years of legislative experience to Scott's administration, a contrast to the governor's background as a businessman who ran against the GOP establishment in the 2010 primary.

"I am confident that we took the right amount of time to find the right person to serve as Florida?s lieutenant governor," said Scott, who was recently sued over the length of the search for Carroll's replacement. "Carlos? leadership experience will make him a vital part of ensuring the passage of our $500 million tax-cut package this year."

Carroll, who co-owned a company that previously provided consulting services for Allied Veterans of the World, resigned March 12 after that organization emerged as the central target of an illegal gambling investigation. Carroll was never charged with wrongdoing in the probe.

During a press conference with Scott in Miami, Lopez-Cantera said he was "looking forward to getting involved in the action in Tallahassee, very excited about getting involved in getting $500 million back into the pockets of the citizens of the state of Florida."

Legislative Republicans praised Lopez-Cantera's selection.

"He is a well-respected leader who maintains strong relationships with the business community, local and community leaders, legislators and constituents," Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a statement issued through Scott's office. "I have no doubt his breadth of legislative experience will help Governor Scott move his priorities forward."

Democrats were less kind, slamming Scott for allowing the office to stay open for as long as he did. They have suggested Scott had difficulty finding a lieutenant governor because of his political struggles.

"It took him 10 months to find someone to finally take him up on his offer to be LG," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant said in an interview with The News Service of Florida. She said Lopez-Cantera would be Scott's "lobbyist-in-chief."

Lopez-Cantera, who was born in Spain but is of Cuban descent, could also prove helpful to Scott in his bid for-re-election. In 2010, Scott rankled many Hispanic voters -- including Lopez-Cantera -- with his embrace of a tough Arizona law aimed at illegal immigration.

Lopez-Cantera was quoted at the time as raising concerns about the measure's impact on civil liberties.

Scott also came under criticism for vetoing a measure that would have allowed paperwork from President Barack Obama's "deferred action" program to serve as proof of identity or legal presence for driver's license applications. That program grants two-year non-deportation promises to undocumented immigrants under 30 who meet certain conditions.

The pick comes against the backdrop of eroding support for Republicans among Cuban-American voters. A pair of studies in the wake of the 2012 elections suggested that Obama had made deep inroads among Cuban voters in South Florida.

"Carlos is a popular politician who will help the governor somewhat with the Hispanic vote," said Dario Moreno, a political science professor at Florida International University. "The governor still has to do more, but this is a good first step."

But Tant brushed that off.

"I think the Hispanic voters of Florida are smarter than that," she said.

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