Scott Appoints Florida's First Hispanic Lt. Gov.

Image: Scott Appoints Florida's First Hispanic Lt. Gov.

Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 12:57 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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As his reelection campaign shifts into high gear, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has made history with his appointment of Carlos Lopez-Cantera as the state's first Hispanic lieutenant governor.

Lopez-Cantera, 40, is a popular Miami-Dade County politician with close ties to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, according to The Miami Herald.

“His presence on the 2014 Republican ticket would add diversity and could boost Scott’s standing among Hispanic voters, especially in the state’s largest county,” the Herald reported Monday.

Lopez-Cantera served in the Florida Legislature for eight years, his final two as the Republican majority leader before being forced out by term limits in 2012. That same year, he narrowly won the county-wide, nonpartisan primary to become Miami-Dade’s second elected property appraiser.

A native of Madrid, the 40-year-old Lopez-Cantera was raised in Miami, where he graduated from the University of Miami. His appointment surprised insiders, many of whom wagered Scott would select someone from the I-4 corridor, referring to the swing vote portion of the Sunshine State.

The lieutenant governor's office has been vacant since the resignation of Jennifer Carroll 10 months ago. Last week, Democrats asked the Florida Supreme Court to force Scott to appoint a lieutenant governor within 30 days.

Lopez-Cantera was a member of the team who helped Rubio in 2010 defeat then Republican-turned-Independent Gov. Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate. Crist is challenging Scott this year to get his old job back, this time as a Democrat. A November poll showed Crist leading Scott by 4 percentage points, according to Politico.

Lopez-Cantera will take a nearly $50,000 a year pay cut to become lieutenant governor – the property appraiser is paid $167,567 a year, while the lieutenant governor earns $120,000.

The Herald notes that Lopez-Cantera “is independently wealthy and last year reported a net worth of $2.3 million, much of it from family companies, Pan American Consulting and Pan American Group, which develop and manage commercial and industrial property. He also has earned substantial income from Imagine Outdoor Advertising, a billboard company.”

He is largely known as a fiscal conservative favoring reduced taxes.

Crist’s camp has been mum about Scott’s appointment of Lopez-Cantera, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

"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,” Crist spokesman Kevin Cate told the paper.

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