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Carlos Lopez-Cantera’

New team at top: Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera joins Scott’s office

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera outside Governor's Mansion

Carlos Lopez-Cantera was sworn in Monday as Florida lieutenant governor, becoming the first Hispanic in the post and ending a 11-month vacancy in Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.

The ceremony took place in Scott’s office, with the governor and Lopez-Cantera’s family members present. At a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion less than two hours later, Republican Cabinet members and legislative leaders gathered to welcome the Miami Republican, who formerly served as House majority leader and Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser.

Joining Scott’s office as it becomes increasingly focused on his re-election bid this year, Lopez-Cantera was quick to echo the administration’s campaign themes in a brief meeting with state media.

“Very proud to be part of the governor’s team,” Lopez-Cantera said. “Results matter. And his record is something to be proud of. Unemployment down to 6.2 percent from 11.1 (percent when Scott took office), 462,000 new jobs in the state, a state that paid down over $3 billion (in debt). That’s something to be proud of.”

Lopez-Cantera said that with the legislative session beginning next month, he’ll also get to play a role in cutting taxes and fees by another $500 million, which the governor has singled out as his election-year priority.

Lopez-Cantera is a real estate investor, mostly through family-owned Pan American Consulting, Pan American Group and Lopezcantera Holdings.

His net worth has roller-coastered in recent years – with his latest report of $2.3 million down from $4 million in 2012 and up from $1.8 million in 2011.

Lopez-Cantera and Scott haven’t said much about his Hispanic heritage and whether that played a strong role in his being named. But in a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, Democrat Charlie Crist is leading Scott by 8 percentage points — but holds a commanding 52 percent to 26 percent lead among Hispanic voters.

Lopez-Cantera, though, said Monday that he is undaunted by Scott’s numbers.

“Results matter. And when the citizens see that, they’ll realize that this governor has done a great job,” he said.

Wayback machine yields LGs then-and-now

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Future Lieutenant Gov. Lopez-Cantera (far left) next to then LG Jennifer Carroll.

Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry called Carlos Lopez-Cantera the “perfect person” for Gov. Rick Scott to partner with, heading into this year’s re-election campaign.

But you don’t have to adjust the way-back machine very much to find depictions of another, seemingly perfect pairing.

Lopez-Cantera, on his state legislative web page, had this photo posted from the end of the 2012 legislative session. The new lieutenant governor is at the far left — joining Scott for a celebratory scrum with fellow Republicans. Nearby, that year’s lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, who resigned a year later.

 

Fla’s new leadership pairing: Same message, more caffeine — Cuban-style

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by John Kennedy

-John Lantigua covered Scott’s appointment of Lopez-Cantera in Miami and filed this report:

Gov. Rick Scott named Miami Cuban-American Carlos Lopez-Cantera his lieutenant governor Tuesday after a long search, but in time for what is expected to be rough 2014 re-election campaign.

Lopez-Cantera is the Miami-Dade county property appraiser, a position he won last year after serving eight years in the state House, the last two as GOP majority leader. Lopez-Cantera could help Scott with the state’s Hispanic voters, and especially in Miami-Dade, which is both heavily Hispanic and Democratic. Scott is facing bruising challenge from former Florida GOP governor Charlie Crist, the front runner for the Democratic nomination.

The announcement was made at the Miami headquarters of the Department of Children and Families, where Scott also announced he will seek $31 million dollars more in DCF funding in the coming legislative session. The two men spoke to a room crowded with DCF employees and the media. Lopez-Cantera, the first Hispanic lieutenant governor of Florida, was flanked by his wife, Renee, and his two daughters, Sabrina, 6, and Sofia, 10 months.

Lopez-Cantera praised Scott for turning around the Florida economy and told that crowd that if voters could have the kind of conversations he has had with Scott  “there would be no question about the landslide we are going to have in November.”

Scott was asked more than once about the importance to the GOP ticket of a Hispanic running mate, but refused to frame the appointment that way. Scott instead praised Lopez-Cantera’s work in the legislature and also his experience as a small business owner.

“I chose him because he’s good,” Scott said.

Scott and Lopez-Cantera said their main goal is to achieve tax cuts of $500 million in the coming legislative session.

Lopez-Cantera, like Scott, tried to stay away from the question of his heritage and if that might have played a strong role in his being named, but he did allow himself one aside.

“I think there will be a bit more Cuban coffee in the governor’s office,” he said.

 

Lopez-Cantera named state’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by John Kennedy

Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former Miami-Dade state lawmaker and currently the county’s property appraiser, was introduced Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott as his lieutenant governor and running mate for this fall’s election.

Lopez-Cantera, 40, becomes the first Hispanic lieutenant governor in Florida history. He fills a post vacant since the resignation 10 months ago of Scott’s first running mate, Jennifer Carroll, who was forced out for having worked for an internet gambling charity accused of criminal wrongdoing.

“I am confident that we took the right amount of time to find the right person to serve as Florida’s Lieutenant Governor. Carlos’ leadership experience will make him a vital part of ensuring the passage of our $500 million tax cut package this year,” Scott said. “And his business experience and expertise in cutting taxes and government regulations will support small business growth and success.”

Lopez-Cantera said he was honored by being Scott’s choice. He also echoed the themes of Scott’s re-election campaign.

“I look forward to leveraging my experience with small businesses and government tax reform to help further Gov. Scott’s mission of economic growth and job creation,” Lopez-Cantera said.

The announcement was made at the Miami headquarters of the Department of Children and Families, where Scott also announced he will seek $31 million dollars more in DCF funding in the coming legislative session. The two men spoke to a room crowded with DCF employees and the media. Lopez-Cantera was flanked by his wife, Renee, and his two daughters, Sabrina, 6, and Sofia, 10 months.

Lopez-Cantera praised Scott for turning around the Florida economy and told that crowd that if voters could have the kind of conversations he has had with Scott  “there would be no question about the landslide we are going to have in November.”

Scott was asked more than once about the importance to the GOP ticket of a Hispanic running mate, but refused to frame the appointment that way. Scott instead praised Lopez-Cantera’s work in the legislature and also his experience as a small business owner.

“I chose him because he’s good,” Scott said.

Scott and Lopez-Cantera said their main goal is to achieve tax cuts of $500 million in the coming legislative session.

Lopez-Cantera, like Scott, tried to stay away from the question of his heritage and if that might have played a strong role in his being named, but he did allow himself one aside.

“I think there will be a bit more Cuban coffee in the governor’s office,” he said.

The political importance of his selection to Scott, trailing in the polls among Hispanic voters to rival, Democrat Charlie Crist, was made quickly apparent.

“Gov. Scott continues to demonstrate his commitment to the Hispanic community of Florida by selecting a proven leader from Miami-Dade County,” said Nelson Diaz, the county’s Republican chairman.

Lopez-Cantera was elected property appraiser in 2012 after serving eight years in the state House, the last two years as majority leader. Born in Spain, Lopez-Cantera initially rose in influence in the House under former Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami,  now a U.S. senator.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was among the first Republicans to weigh in with praise for Scott’s selection. Putnam looked back on Lopez-Cantera’s years in the state House and said they refelected a candidate ready for one of the state’s top jobs — although it comes with no specific duties.

“As a state legislator, he was a driving force in reducing taxes on businesses and consumers,” Putnam said of Lopez-Cantera. “He was a principled conservative who served Florida well during some of the greatest challenges our state has faced.”

Putnam said the new lieutenant governor, “is an outstanding leader in our state who will bring energy, passion and wise counsel to the governor’s office.”

Florida Dempocrats saw Lopez-Cantera differently.

“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,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant.

A Quinnipiac University poll in November showed Scott trailing Democrat Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor, by 7 percentage points among all voters — but down 15 percentage points to Crist among Hispanic voters.

Lopez-Cantera’s predecessor, Carroll, was the first black to serve in that role. But she was forced out of the administration last March for having earlier worked as a consultant to a charity operating internet cafes criminally accused of skimming cash. The Legislature soon after outlawed internet cafes and many of the leading figures in the investigation have been convicted or pleaded guilty to running a wide-ranging criminal enterprise.

Since then, a host of possible replacements have been mentioned — some by the governor’s office, which acknowledged having prepared a short-list. Still, many of those cited by the governor’s office quickly took themselves out of the running.

Among them were Orange County schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins, St. Johns County schools Superintendent Joseph Joyner and Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger. Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman have been interviewed by the governor’s representatives, and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, also loomed last fall as a possible lieutenant governor choice.

Scott, though, showed few signs of being hurried with his choice. Last week, Tallahassee Democratic activist Barbara DeVane filed a lawsuit in the Florida Supreme Court maintaining that Scott is breaking state law by not having a lieutenant governor.

The lawsuit was prepared by Crist supporter and veteran trial lawyer Don Hinkle. The Supreme Court had not yet taken up the matter but Scott’s desire to avoid a legal confrontation may have played some role in hastening the selection.

 – John Lantigua, reporting from Miami, contributed.

UPDATE: As immigrants stage all-night vigil, Haridopolos urges House to pass Senate immigration bill

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: Rep. William Snyder insisted late Wednesday night the Senate plan is a no-go in the House. “I think it’s thoroughly impossible,” Snyder said. Even if he had the two-thirds votes to take up the measure – which he said he does not – he likely wouldn’t because it’s nowhere near the comprehensive change he supports.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos urged the Florida House to take up and pass his chamber’s immigration proposal despite House GOP leaders’ insistence that the issue is off the table.

“This is an issue we’ve talked about for almost a decade. I would trust the House to take up that bill,” the Merritt Island Republican who is running for U.S. Senate told reporters late this evening. “I think it’s the right thing to do…I’d like to see them do it. These are common-sense items I think everybody would agree with.”

The Senate plan is too weak for conservative Republicans in the House and too strident for Democrats to get the two-thirds votes needed to consider the measure, according to Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, the House plan’s sponsor.

(more…)

Lopez-Cantera joins AIF demand for utility reg investigation

Thursday, October 15th, 2009 by Dara Kam

State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera joined the call for an internal investigation into BlackBerry messages sent by utility regulators.

Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, serves on the Public Service Commission Nominating Council that selects who gets to serve on the regulatory panel. The governor makes the final picks.

“The PIN messages sent and received by Commissioner Nancy Argenziano and released by the PSC, coupled with their discussion of private emails so far unreleased and sent to non-public accounts in an attempt to evade public scrutiny, raise serious questions about Commissioner Argenziano’s impartiality and her ability to give a fair hearing to those appearing before her,” Lopez-Cantera wrote in a statement distributed to the media.

Earlier today, Associated Industries of Florida President Barney Bishop demanded the PSC’s inspector general check out Commissioner Nancy Argenziano’s BlackBerry PIN messages.

Bishop said Argenziano may have broken rules restricting communications between the regulators and the utilities and may have acted in a manner unbecoming a commissioner, a violation of her oath of office.

It’s no surprise that Lopez-Cantera has jumped on the Argeziano attack wagon.
(more…)

Argenziano lashes out at Lopez-Cantera

Friday, September 11th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Public Service Commissioner Nancy Argenziano snapped back at state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera for criticizing her critique of his questions of Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter.

Argenziano, a former lawmaker who served in both the House and the Senate, sent a heated letter to Lopez-Cantera late this evening in which she expounds on her repeated complaints that lawmakers with too close of ties to utilities have too much influence over the regulatory panel on which she sits.

Lopez-Cantera sits on the council that selects nominees for the governor to appoint to the regulatory agency. He wasn’t happy with the answers Carter gave at the Sept. 1 nominating council meeting although Carter did make the list of six finalists for Gov. Charlie Crist to consider.

Her letter is a response to one Lopez-Cantera sent to her yesterday criticizing her reaction to his dissatisfaction with the PSC’s unanimous decision to force Florida Power & Light officials to release the salaries of all its employees that earn more than $165,000 per year. He advised Argenziano she could have found the information in the Juno Beach-based corporation’s federal filings as he and his office staff did in less than an hour.

“This same information would have saved the PSC time and taxpayer money,” Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, wrote in a letter sent yesterday.

The federal information does not include bonuses and other perks that boost some of the salaries by up to 500 percent, Argenziano responded tonight.

“Your apparently gullible acceptance, Representative Cantera, as the FERC document reflects, that the salary of FPL’s Executive Vice President is $23,000, is flabbergasting. The ‘less than an hour’ which you and your office spent producing this useless information is perhaps the true waste of time and taxpayer money,” Argenziano wrote.

(more…)

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