Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rick Scott's new lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is sworn in

Carlos Lopez-Cantera was sworn in at a private ceremony in Gov. Rick Scott’s office Monday.

Associated Press.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera was sworn in at a private ceremony in Gov. Rick Scott’s office Monday.

TALLAHASSEE — Carlos Lopez-Cantera's first day as Florida lieutenant governor was like the job itself, with lots of style and not much substance.

The former Miami-Dade legislator and property appraiser, who ended Gov. Rick Scott's long search for a new No. 2, took the oath of office in a brief, private ceremony Monday in Scott's office in the Capitol. The oath was administered by Judge Joseph Lewis Jr., chief judge of the 1st District Court of Appeal.

"I'm very proud to be part of the governor's team," Lopez-Cantera said at a brief news conference with a smiling Scott standing nearby.

Lopez-Cantera has quickly mastered the governor's main talking points. He cited the drop in Florida's unemployment rate, creation of new jobs and the paying down of more than $3 billion in state debt.

As for a Quinnipiac University poll last week that said 54 percent of voters do not want Scott to be re-elected, Lopez-Cantera said: "The results matter, and when the citizens see that, I think they'll agree that this governor has done a great job."

Scott said Lopez-Cantera's chief responsibility would be to secure passage of $500 million in fee and tax cuts in the upcoming legislative session that begins March 4. That shouldn't take much work: Legislative leaders already have largely endorsed Scott's two-pronged plan of a rollback of auto tag fees to pre-2009 levels and a small cut in the sales tax businesses pay on rents.

"He's going to be a great partner. We're going to have a great year running together," Scott said.

Scott appointed the 40-year-old Lopez-Cantera on Jan. 14, ending a 10-month vacancy in the office following the resignation of Jennifer Carroll last March.

Lopez-Cantera is Florida's 19th lieutenant governor and the first Hispanic to hold the office. His ability to speak Spanish will help the Scott administration to communicate a message more effectively in Spanish-language media, but Lopez-Cantera missed such an opportunity on Monday.

He ignored two pleas from a TV crew that he make a statement in Spanish and followed Scott inside the mansion for a luncheon.

About 40 political leaders, family and friends joined the new lieutenant governor for a celebratory lunch of saffron paella, braised chicken, shrimp and warm cajeta bread pudding. Lopez-Cantera and his wife, Renee, kept a close eye on their daughters Sabrina and Sofia. A baby stroller sat nearby.

"This is the beginning of a great partnership," said House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Along with legislative leaders, several lobbyists attended, including Dean Cannon, the former House speaker who appointed Lopez-Cantera majority leader; Chris Moya, a longtime friend and political strategist who worked on Lopez-Cantera's House races; and Bill Rubin, a Scott ally who quietly promoted Lopez-Cantera's candidacy as a bridge to Hispanic voters.

Among the few Democrats present was Sen. Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens, who said his family and Lopez-Cantera's are longtime friends.

Braynon discounted the possibility that Lopez-Cantera would help Scott win re-election.

"I don't think it really matters who he picked," Braynon said. "No matter what happens, he (Scott) has to run on his own record."

By law, the lieutenant governor has no specific duties except to take the place of a governor who is incapacitated.

Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, has filed a bill, SB 756, that would require the governor to give the lieutenant governor oversight of a specific state agency — an idea Lopez-Cantera did not want to discuss Monday.

"This is Day 1," he said. "Today's about the announcement. Today's about being sworn in."

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Rick Scott's new lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is sworn in 02/03/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. J.R. Sweezy shows what Bucs were missing

    Bucs

    By Greg Auman

    TAMPA —- Sunday's season-opening win against the Bears saw the debut of 13 Bucs, a mix of rookies and free-agent veterans.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73), seen at center, runs through drills during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 31, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  2. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Vikings features a battle of top rookies

    Bucs

    Greg Auman looks at how much the Bucs have changed since the last time they played the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 in our latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Hillsborough okays $1.25 million in Hurricane Irma-related spending with more to come

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners approved $1.25 million in expenses related to Hurricane Irma on Wednesday with many more costs expected to come.

    The overflowing Alafia River, swollen by rains from Hurricane Irma, caused massive flooding near Lithia Pinecrest Road. On Wednesday, Hillsborough County approved $1.25 million in Irma-related spending.
  4. 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' is exhausting, crass and too long

    Movies

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a tarnished sequel demolishing the original's balderdash charm in a torrent of tumble-dry camera moves, CGI slosh and Elton John f-bombs.

    Taron Egerton stars in Twentieth Century Fox's "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," also starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Mark Strong, Elton John, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges. (Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox)
  5. New 'cantina-style' Taco Bells to serve alcohol, ditch drive-thrus by 2022

    Business

    Taco Bell is ditching drive-thrus and adding alcohol.

    Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 "cantina style" stores across the country that ditches the drive-thru and adds alcohol. [Times Files]