Carlos Lopez-Cantera Archives - Florida Politics

Mikaela Nix gets Carlos López-Cantera’s backing in HD 47 primary

Republican Florida House candidate Mikaela Nix has been endorsed by Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera for House District 47, her campaign announced Thursday.

“I admire Mikaela because she has a passion for helping people and a love for the law,” said López-Cantera in a prepared statement. “There’s no doubt that she would be an effective leader for the citizens of District 47.”

Nix, a lawyer from Orlando, is battling with Winter Park businessman Stockton Reeves VI for next Tuesday’s Republican primary nomination. The winner takes on Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani to represent HD 47, covering north and central Orange County, including downtown Orlando. Incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican, is running for Congress.

“I am honored that the lieutenant governor reached out to me and volunteered his support,” Nix said. “I have worked hard to get to where I am today, and I am proud that it is recognized by leaders of our state.”

Steve Cona

Carlos López-Cantera backs Steve Cona for Hillsborough School Board

Steve Cona’s campaign for a seat on the Hillsborough County School board got a boost Monday by way of an endorsement from Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera.

“Steve’s passion for education and the students of Hillsborough County is known statewide, and I’m proud to endorse him for the school board, District 1 seat,” López-Cantera said. “I’ve been impressed with his work to popularize both college and career tracks for students through the creation of Build Tampa Bay, and look forward to seeing him bring his expertise and know-how to improve Hillsborough County Public Schools for the next generation.”

Cona, the president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, is also an executive officer at Build Tampa Bay, a foundation established to encourage high school students to explore careers in the construction industry.

“I’m humbled to receive an endorsement from one of Florida’s most esteemed leaders,” Cona said. “As a father of two kids, both in the public school system, I have seen the work that needs to be done in our school district. We can always do more to ensure our students go from learners to earners and look forward to working with leaders like the Lieutenant Governor to improve our local public schools.”

Though School Board races are nonpartisan, Cona is a Republican who once ran for Hillsborough County Commission. His two major endorsements so far, however, have shown an ability to draw support from both sides of the political spectrum — López-Cantera, a Republican, follows Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, in backing the businessman’s bid.

Cona faces Gil Machin and William Person in the race for District 1, which will be on the 2018 ballot due to current School Board member Susan Valdes opting to run for House District 62 rather than finish out her term.

Person, a retired school district administrator, moved his campaign over from the District 6 race. He ran for the District 1 seat two years ago and came within 267 votes of defeating Valdes. Machin, a retired county social services administrator, appears to be a first-time candidate.

Thus far, Cona is the best-funded of the three candidates with more than $61,000 in receipts and $52,573 in the bank on July 27. Person has the second-best tally, with nearly $46,000 raised and $13,598 in his account, followed by Machin with $13,750 raised and $10,246 at the ready.

District 1 covers northwestern Hillsborough, including part of Tampa and the communities of Egypt Lake, Keystone, Leto, Town ‘n’ Country and Westchase. The winner of the nonpartisan election will serve out the remainder of Valdes’ term, which runs through 2020.

Another key endorsement: Carlos Lopez-Cantera endorses Ashley Moody for AG

The Attorney General campaign of Republican Ashley Moody got another in a long series of endorsements Thursday, with Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera backing the retired Hillsborough judge.

Lopez-Cantera is a potentially significant endorsement. Since taking over the LG office, he has been Gov. Scott’s pointman in South Florida.

“Ashley Moody is the conservative choice for Attorney General who is best qualified to continue with Pam Bondi’s legacy of keeping our streets safe, defending the Second Amendment, and ensuring those who break the law are held accountable. I am proud to endorse Ashley and am confident she will work with the next administration as well as Pam Bondi has with Governor Scott and me,” Lopez-Cantera asserted.

Moody’s statement accepting the endorsement, meanwhile, was not without rhetorical flourish.

“I am honored to receive the support of Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera who has a distinguished conservative record of service to the State of Florida,” said Moody.

“Having worked alongside Governor Scott and Attorney General Bondi,” Moody added, “he recognizes the importance of having an Attorney General with the right background to effectively address the complex criminal justice issues facing our state.”

“As a former prosecutor and judge,” Moody concluded, “I will press forward to build on the great legacy of Attorney General Bondi combating the opioid epidemic, human trafficking, and elder abuse. I am extremely grateful for his confidence in my candidacy and I will strive every day to deserve the honor and responsibility as Florida’s Top Cop.”

Moody has amassed the preponderance of law enforcement backing, and her campaign has noted that her opponent, state Rep. Frank White, lacks prosecutorial experience. Her campaign’s media release notes support from incumbent Pam Bondi, 42 Republican Florida Sheriffs, 12 state attorneys, and police unions.

The Moody/White campaign has long since devolved into contrast ads and character assassinations. Nonetheless, both candidates continue to trot out endorsements, even as Moody’s list is more impressive to those who buy the argument that the AG is indeed “Florida’s Top Cop.”

Pam Bondi up, Carlos Lopez-Cantera down in new wealth report

With much of her wealth in her home and a condominium, Attorney General Pam Bondi reported a net worth of $1.84 million as of the end of 2017, according to a financial-disclosure report filed last week.

Bondi’s net worth was up from about $1.7 million at the end of 2016. Bondi reported a nearly $1.16 million personal residence as of December 2017, and her one-third interest in a condominium was valued at $375,000 — with the value of the home and the condominium both increasing over the previous year.

Bondi also reported $549,000 in household goods and personal effects. Her only reported income was $128,871 from the state. State officials are required to file financial-disclosure forms by July 1 of each year, though they receive a grace period until Sept. 1. The reports typically reflect finances in the previous calendar year.

Melissa Howard HD 73

Melissa Howard earns backing of Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Sarasota Republican Melissa Howard announced Thursday that she had earned the backing of Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera in her campaign to succeed Rep. Joe Gruters in House District 73.

“Melissa Howard is the business owner, community leader, and conservative champion that will best serve her constituents in District 73. I am pleased to endorse Melissa’s campaign to continue the pro-growth policies that have led to historic economic growth and prosperity in Florida,” Lopez-Cantera said.

Lopez-Cantera is Howard’s biggest endorsement yet. He joins Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who was briefly a candidate for HD 73, in endorsing Howard. Gruters has not issued a formal endorsement yet, though he is serving as treasurer for the Howard campaign.

“I am honored to have the support of Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera,” Howard said. “I will continue working hard to ensure Manatee County residents and business owners have their voices and concerns heard in Tallahassee.”

Howard faces fellow Republican Tommy Gregory in the primary race for HD 73. The seat is open due to Gruters’ run for SD 23, which opened in the wake of U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s announcement he would not run for re-election in 2018.

As of May 31, Gregory led the money race with nearly $180,000 raised and $162,775 banked between his campaign and political committee, Friends Of Tommy Gregory. Howard started June with more than $130,000 at the ready, including $100,000 in loans she used to kick-start her campaign in April.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will face Democrat Liv Coleman in the Nov. 6 general election.

HD 73 is a Republican stronghold covering parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Aakash Patel

Aakash Patel’s latest big-name endorser? Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Tampa businessman Aakash Patel announced Monday that Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has endorsed his campaign for Hillsborough County Commission District 1.

“I had the opportunity to get to know Aakash Patel through his work with Leadership Tampa Bay and his service on their Board of Directors since 2014. Aakash has impressed me with his drive, ambition and ability to apply his conservative ideals to encourage and mentor others in the business community and leadership roles,” Lopez-Cantera said.

“I strongly support his effort to become a member of the Hillsborough County Commission where I am certain he will work to consistently apply his solid conservative principals in all that he does. I wholeheartedly endorse Aakash Patel, in his campaign to become the next Hillsborough County Commissioner for District 1.”

Patel, a Republican, is a 2011 graduate and current member of the Board of Directors of Leadership Tampa Bay, a non-profit organization that educates and trains its members on issues facing the Tampa Bay region.

“I am extremely honored to have the support of such a true conservative friend as Carlos Lopez-Cantera,” Patel said. “Having spent time advancing individuals in leadership roles beside the Lt. Governor, I sincerely admire his strength and guidance across the State of Florida. I sincerely thank Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera for his endorsement of my campaign for Hillsborough County Commission.”

CLC’s endorsement is the latest in a long string of Republican elected officials who’ve lined up to back Patel. Two weeks ago, Zephyrhills Republican Rep. Danny Burgess announced his support, and prior endorsements include Tarpon Springs U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Panhandle U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and Sarasota state Rep. Joe Gruters.

Patel faces fellow Republican C. Todd Marks and Democrat Jen McDonald in the race for District 1, the seat currently held by Republican Commissioner Sandra Murman, who has filed to run for the countywide District 7 seat in 2018.

Patel leads the field in fundraising with more than $433,000 raised and $267,000 on hand through the end of April. Marks has not filed his April report, but had about $76,000 in the bank at the end of March. McDonald filed last month and has not yet filed her first campaign finance report.

CRC rejects added duty for Lieutenant Governor

Florida’s lieutenant governor won’t have to worry about being required by voters to run a state agency.

Members of the state Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday rejected, in a 20-12 vote, a proposed constitutional amendment (Proposal 66) that would have required the Lieutenant Governor to oversee a department within the executive branch.

“We spend about $1 million a year on support services and salary for the lieutenant governor,” said Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican and member of the commission who sponsored the proposal. “It was just an idea to get not only a bigger bang for our buck, but at the same time also create some added value and some self-actualization for the individual.”

In the past, Lee called the money spent on the office “wasteful.” On Tuesday, he said the position is one of the weakest in the nation and simply designed to “help elect a governor at election time.”

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera is paid $124,851 a year.

But several members of the commission noted the governor already can appoint the lieutenant governor to run an agency and that some agency-head positions have required qualifications. As an example, the Department of Health is headed by the state Surgeon General.

“In dealing with many of these agencies over the past seven years, I know the Department of Corrections is highly qualified in law enforcement,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said. “I think that’s another problem, that many of these require very specialized skills.”

Bondi is part of the 37-member commission, which meets every 20 years to craft constitutional amendments that will go before voters in November.

Commissioner Emery Gainey, a member of the Attorney General’s management team, asked what would happen if the Governor wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the Lieutenant Governor and no other agency-head position was open.

Lee initially proposed that the Lieutenant Governor act as a tie-breaking vote in the Florida Senate and replace the secretary of state, one of the positions now appointed by the Governor. But the proposal was scaled back to requiring that the Lieutenant Governor serve as an agency head.

Other examples of agencies under the Governor include the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Lottery and the Department of Management Services.

Commissioner Don Gaetz, a former state Senate president, was among those backing the proposal.

“I think we’ve had some great lieutenant governors who actually had jobs,” said Gaetz, a Niceville Republican. “And then we’ve had some lieutenant governors who could have wandered the halls with their hands in their pockets, a waste of human resources. It’s just the way it was.”

The office has been around in Florida since 1968 and provides an immediate replacement if there is a gubernatorial vacancy — as happened in 1998, when Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay briefly became governor after the death of Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Under Gov. Rick Scott the position has been widely viewed as ceremonial.

Scott let the office sit idle for nearly a year between the resignation of Jennifer Carroll in March 2013 and his appointment of Lopez-Cantera in February 2014.

Plan would specify Lieutenant Governor duties

Florida’s Lieutenant Governor would have specific duties under a proposed constitutional amendment that continued to draw support Friday from members of the state Constitution Revision Commission.

The commission’s Legislative Committee unanimously backed a proposal (Proposal 66) by Sen. Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican, that would make the Lieutenant Governor serve as head of one of the departments in the executive branch.

“Under our current structure, we have about the weakest Lieutenant Governor in the United States,” Lee, a member of the Constitution Revision Commission, said.

Four states — Maine, Arizona, Oregon and Wyoming — don’t have the position. Most states that have the position attach job requirements.

Lee said money now spent on the office is “wasteful.”

“We’re spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million a year to have the infrastructure for a lieutenant governor, and part of that includes the salary and benefits,” Lee said.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera is paid $124,851 a year.

While three committees of the Constitution Revision Commission have backed the proposal, that doesn’t mean the measure will appear on the November ballot.

The commission, which meets every 20 years, is reviewing proposed constitutional amendments and is expected to decide this spring on which issues will go before voters.

Lee initially proposed that the Lieutenant Governor act as a tie-breaking vote in the Florida Senate and replace the secretary of state, one of the positions now appointed by the governor.

The other potential landing spots for the Lieutenant Governor would include the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Elder Affairs, the Department of Health, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Lottery and the Department of Management Services, Lee said.

“What this proposal does, is it says the governor will take a look at the talents and skill sets of the individual that he or she has chosen as a Lieutenant Governor and assign them to one of these,” Lee said.

Florida’s lieutenant governor is elected as the governor’s running mate and would step in if there is a gubernatorial vacancy — as happened in 1998, when Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay briefly became Governor after the death of Gov. Lawton Chiles.

At times, such as with MacKay, lieutenant governors have played important roles in state administrations. But the position under Gov. Rick Scott has been widely viewed as more ceremonial.

Scott let the office sit idle for nearly a year between the resignation of Jennifer Carroll in March 2013 and his appointment of Lopez-Cantera in February 2014.

The office has only been around in Florida since 1968.

The state had a Lieutenant Governor from 1865 to 1885, when the position was elected separate from the governor and the role was ex-officio president of the Senate, able to vote in case of a tie.

Mike Pence to keynote Republicans’ conference in Orlando

Vice President Mike Pence is slated to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Florida’s annual Statesman Dinner during their November state conference in Orlando.

Pence – with “special guest” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio –  is to highlight the dinner set for Thursday, Nov. 2 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, kicking off the two-day conference.

Also billed for the kickoff dinner to the quarterly party meeting are three of the four members of the Florida Cabinet, though not Gov. Rick Scott. The other advertised guests include Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi,  Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Florida Senate President Joe Negron, and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

General tickets are $200 for the dinner, with executive committee members and College Republicans getting discounts.

Jeremy Ring adds $168K in August for CFO campaign

Democratic CFO candidate Jeremy Ring will report a combined $168,822 raised last month between his campaign and committee accounts, his campaign finance director said Tuesday.

Shelby Rogers said the former state senator brought in $154,322 of the money through his campaign account and another $14,500 through his committee, “Florida Action Fund.”

“Our August fundraising numbers are further proof that Jeremy Ring’s message of bringing a more innovation-driven economy to Florida to create high-paying jobs has resonated with Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys, and we are excited to continue sharing Jeremy’s vision for a stronger Florida economy,” Rogers said.

Ring finished July with about $130,000 between the two accounts; Rogers didn’t give any update on Ring’s on-hand totals.

According to his committee website, FAF has about $5,200 on hand, while his campaign’s August report hasn’t been filed.

James Pugh Jr. topped the committee donor roll with a $5,000 check, followed by the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters and the Florida Alliance for Better Government at $2,500, Alliance for Progressive Government at $2,000 and the Florida AFL-CIO and lobbyist Paul Wharton at $1,000 each.

Committee expenses came in at around $13,000 and included $5,500 to Johnson Campaigns and $3,000 to Renaissance Campaign Strategies for consulting work.

As of Sept. 5, Ring is still the only candidate running for CFO.

Potential GOP candidates include sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis and Brandon state Sen. Tom Lee.

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