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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate candidate Carlos Lopez-Cantera brags about suspending workers for not voting

In an election cycle already marked by often outrageous bravado, it's no surprise the five Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in Florida are out to prove they aren't going to take guff from anyone.

Carlos Beruff calls politicians worthless in TV commercials. U.S. Rep. David Jolly calls fellow members of Congress "shameful." And while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis talks up his days working alongside Navy SEALs, Todd Wilcox recounts being a CIA officer and expert sniper in the Army.

In that environment, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is trying to prove he won't back down from a fight, either.

At a recent campaign stop in New Port Richey, Lopez-Cantera tried to win over a crowd of 450 Republicans by telling them about his time as Miami-Dade's property appraiser when he stood up to a labor union and ended up suspending dozens in 2013. Lopez-Cantera said he was saddled with a labor contract that forced him to allow employees paid time off to go vote.

From the get-go, Lopez-Cantera was miffed by the allowance, which he told the Times/Herald in an interview Tuesday didn't make sense for employees who could vote early at County Hall.

"I said, early voting is in the lobby — they can't just stop by early voting on their way up or their way out, or on their way to lunch or something?" he said. "They're getting paid time off for this?"

Ultimately, 79 took the time off.

After Election Day, Lopez-Cantera took the step — unprecedented, as far as anyone could tell — of requesting elections records to show which workers cast ballots.

"I went and I checked if they had voted," Lopez-Cantera said in New Port Richey. "I suspended 40 employees because they did not vote." (Records show it was 41.)

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[Last modified: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 7:09pm]


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