Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rising Florida GOP leader skips convention, lukewarm on Trump

Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami

Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami

TALLAHASSEE — At least one Florida Republican rising star wasn't planning to be in attendance when the GOP convention opened its national convention in Cleveland on Monday.

State Rep. Jose Oliva, the Miami Lakes Republican who is designated to be Florida House speaker in 2018, gave up his delegate spot and is heading to Nicaragua this week to tend to his tobacco company.

"I'm not going to Cleveland," said the CEO of Miami-based Oliva Cigar of the expected coronation of Donald Trump as Republican nominee. "At this point it's just a formality and I'm not much for ceremony."

Oliva says he will vote for Trump since he can't agree with the alternatives but it's not a decision that pleases him.

"I think Donald Trump gets my support by default and that is not great," he said. "A country of this size should have two better choices but I simply can't support something so ideologically opposed to me as the Hillary platform."

Oliva, however, has more pressing concerns on his mind. His family-owned company just closed on the sale of Oliva Cigar to a Belgian cigar maker, J. Cortès, effective July 1, for an undisclosed price. The multimillion dollar deal leaves Oliva as co-CEO while his siblings have been bought out.

It was a negotiation that was in the works for the last year, Oliva said, and took with it "a pound of flesh." The transition now leaves him more time to focus on his upcoming duties as House speaker and GOP re-elections in two years.

"The hope is that in two years when more responsibilities come on, I will have been able to properly establish everything I need to be able to do both things," Oliva told the Herald/Times. If Republicans retain the majority as expected in the state House, Oliva is expected to be named House speaker for the 2018-20 term.

Under the cigar deal, J. Cortès diversifies its product portfolio to include the hand-rolled premium brands that won the Oliva family national awards and further establish its position in the worldwide market. Oliva Cigar has operations in Miami and Nicaragua.

"Oliva Cigars is a fantastic, well-run business with strong brands and plenty of future opportunities," Fred Vandermarliere, CEO of J. Cortès, said in a statement. "This acquisition allows us to further strengthen both businesses' strategy and to stay focused on brands, people and dedication to great products for cigar lovers."

Oliva said selling the business his family began in 1995 to the Belgian family-run enterprise was "a good fit" by combining two family-run companies with a long history in a way that will build on both operations.

Three days after the sale took effect, Vandermarliere tweeted that he was "strongly" committed "to maintain @OlivaCigar as a business, including the brands it currently runs and its current management team."

For Oliva, it's an American dream come true that he says his cousins — who remain in Cuba but who also descended from previous generations of Cuban tobacco growers — can only imagine.

"It really can only happen here," Oliva said. "There's one difference between me and my cousins who didn't get out of Cuba and that's that I was born in America."

Rising Florida GOP leader skips convention, lukewarm on Trump 07/18/16 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2016 2:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Taking heat from some for Charlottesville remarks, Rubio denounces the 'other side'

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio, who has come under fire for not denouncing the “Antifa,” did so in a speech last night in Florida, bemoaning people “on the other side of the political spectrum who …

    Marco Rubio on the campaign trail in 2015
  2. How to make a Strawberry Banana Smoothie

    Cooking

    Don't enjoy breakfast but need to get something in your stomach? Cranky around 3 p.m. and need a jolt of energy? Have trouble getting your daily recommended fruit servings? This smoothie is the cure for all of that and more. It's become my morning go-to. The secret ingredient here is kefir, a probiotic product that's …

    Strawberry Banana Smoothie. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  3. How to tell if the price is right on your next prescription

    Medicine

    Filling a prescription is no longer the simple errand you run after a doctor visit.

    Photo illustration. [iStockphoto.com]
  4. Rubio to Seminole County GOP: 'America is going to be okay'

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a reshaped stump speech Tuesday night to the Seminole County GOP, touching on many of the same points he made as a presidential candidate but adapting it to the tumultuous politics of the moment.

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami.
  5. Dad's app freezes your child's phone until your texts are answered

    Human Interest

    Parents of teens know how vital cell phones can be when they need to reach their kids — especially during an emergency.

    Nick Herbert, who lives in the United Kingdom, grew tired of his teenage son ignoring his texts, so he made an app to fix the problem. ReplyASAP takes over the phone's screen, overrides any silent functions and sets off an alarm, essentially forcing teens to respond to their parents in order to regain access to their phones. [Screengrab from website]