Carlos Lopez-Cantera Archives - Page 2 of 30 - Florida Politics

Marco Rubio makes final swing through Florida ahead of primary

Marco Rubio looked to define his opponent Monday, telling Southwest Florida voters there will be a clear contrast come Election Day.

“The Democrats will have a primary tomorrow, and we’ll see who their choice is,” said Rubio during a stop at the Cape Coral Military Museum. “I can tell you who the Democratic choice is … it’s a congressman from Palm Beach named Patrick Murphy. If he is their nominee, I look forward to the choice voters have.”

Rubio made no mention of his own primary challenge during his remarks Monday morning. Instead he used the speech as a chance to highlight the differences between himself and Murphy, and encourage voters to get to the polls come November.

Rubio faces Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, in Tuesday’s Republican primary. He is largely expected to win the primary, and recent polls show Rubio leads Beruff by double digits.

“We’re very confident. Obviously we worked very hard and we feel good about tomorrow, and we’ll see what voters decide,” he told reporters. “But no matter what, we got to win in November — and that’s true across the ballot, so I thought today was a good day to kind of focus on November and what’s at stake.”

And what’s at stake, Rubio told the crowd, is the future of the country. The Miami Republican said Murphy has a “sense of entitlement.”

“The U.S. Senate seat doesn’t belong to the people who want to buy it, it belongs to the people of the state,” said Rubio. “I’m running for re-election, and I have to earn the right to continue to represent you. And that’s what I intend to do.”

The stop in Southwest Florida was the first of four campaign stops Monday. He was also scheduled to attend events in Bay County and Pensacola, before ending his day in Miami. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who ended his own U.S. Senate bid when Rubio jumped into the race.

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican and a member of Rubio’s Southwest Florida grassroots leadership team, introduced Rubio, saying she was supporting him because “of who he is and where he came from.”

“He’ll tell you the story … about his father who is the bartender and his mother who was a maid. It really is that simple — when you come from nothing you know what it is to push, to work, to ask people to believe in you to achieve your own maximum potential,” she said. “He thinks of the least among us, to make sure … those that want to realize the American dream can do it here in an environment that wants them to be successful.”

Rick Scott says entire state needs to be involved in Zika prevention

Florida has done its part to slow the spread of Zika, but Gov. Rick Scott said it is time for the federal government to step up.

There are 36 cases of locally acquired Zika in Florida, all of which were believed to be transmitted in Miami-Dade County. The Department of Health believes active transmissions are only occurring in Wynwood, a trendy arts neighborhood, and in the Miami Beach area.

“We all have to be part of this. We have to get rid of standing water, wear bug repellent, wear protective clothing,” said Scott during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday morning. “If we do that, then we’re going to continue to do well. This state does a good job with mosquito control.”

But the state can’t do it alone, and Scott said federal lawmakers need to do their part to help Florida. Scott said the state has asked federal health officials to send more Zika prevention kits, which it hasn’t done. He also criticized Congress for taking a recess before passing a Zika funding bill.

“The federal government has not been a good partner,” he said.

President Barack Obama in February requested $1.9 billion in emergency funds to develop a vaccine and control the mosquitoes that carry the virus. The GOP-led House passed a $1.1 billion spending package, but the Senate Democrats blocked the bill.

Scott isn’t the only lawmaker calling for help from federal lawmakers. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine are expected to hold a press conference Monday to urge Congress to return from recess to deal with the outbreak.

The outbreak in Miami Beach comes as the state reported more than 57 million visitors came to Florida in the first six months of the year. Miami Beach is a popular tourist destination, with 48 percent of all visitors to the Miami area staying in Miami Beach in 2015.

Last week, Scott called on the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Health to work with hotels and restaurants in Miami-Dade County on Zika prevention and education.

“We started preparing for Zika back in February, and we’ve kept everyone informed. We put out accurate information, timely information,” said Scott. “That’s why we’re going to continue to see outstanding tourism numbers in our state. People know we are prepared. We prepare for hurricanes, we prepare for storms, (and) we’ve prepared for Zika.”

Scott is scheduled to spend Monday afternoon in Miami. He’ll visit Jose de Diego Middle School in Miami, before hosting a Zika preparedness roundtable at De Hostos Senior Center in Miami. He’ll be joined at the roundtable by Commissioner Adam Putnam and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

__The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Florida GOP announcement about ‘Leadership Victory Committee’ never mentions Donald Trump

While Donald Trump may only now be getting serious about establishing a ground game in Florida, the Republican Party of Florida says they’ll be more than ready to get their voters to the polls this November.

On Thursday, the RPOF announced its Florida Leadership Victory Committee, which it says will work to ensure that Republicans up and down the ballot are successful. It will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Four Republicans each offered comments about the importance of getting the Republican vote out this fall, but noticeably none of them cared to mention Trump in their comments.

“It has always been our objective that Republicans up and down the ballot have success come November,” says party Chairman Blaise Ingoglia, who at least referenced the presidency.

“As a battleground state, the Republican Party of Florida is spending its time and resources supporting candidates that stand for conservative principles that will reverse the course of President Obama’s failed agenda. For the Sunshine State, this election is about keeping Hillary Clinton out of the Oval Office by delivering Florida’s 29 electoral votes to the Republican nominee and restoring prosperity to our country.”

Lopez-Cantera and Putnam referenced the importance of getting Marco Rubio re-elected to the U.S. Senate in November, but mentioned nothing about their presidential standard-bearer.

“With control of the Senate comes the direction of the disastrous Iran Deal, the filling of potentially multiple Supreme Court vacancies and the economic future of our country,” said Lopez-Cantera. “This committee will work to elect Republicans up and down the ballot because this is a crucial point in our nation’s history, and I am honored to serve as a co-chair alongside CFO Atwater and Commissioner Putnam. The Republican Party of Florida’s efforts will ensure we do not have to see Chuck Schumer as majority leader, because that would be unthinkable.

“Once again, it all comes down to Florida. Without a continued majority in the Senate and House, including Marco Rubio’s leadership, we put America’s future at risk,” said Putnam. We need to elect principled conservatives now more than ever, and that is why we must work for Republican victories up and down the ballot. These races are too important to take for granted, and Florida and America’s futures depend on it.”

“We must all work to maintain Republican majorities at the local, state and federal level, and the grassroots effort here in Florida will be crucial,” said Atwater. “Florida is a key battleground state, and the committee is devoted to providing the resources necessary for a strong victory in November.”

RPOF officials say this committee will provide necessary resources to implement what they boast will be the “strongest ground game in the country,” as well as take responsibility for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Pat Neal will not be a candidate for Chief Financial Officer in 2018

Pat Neal, a Manatee County developer and former Florida state senator, will not run for Chief Financial Officer in 2018.

Facing a self-imposed deadline of July 1 to make a decision about a run, Neal told FloridaPolitics.com in an exclusive interview Wednesday he will not be on the ballot in two years.

“I have a wonderful business and a wonderful family, and I have concluded that I cannot continue to have both if I pursue elected office,” he said.

Neal was first elected to the Florida House in 1974, before being elected to the Florida Senate in 1978. He served until 1986, when he lost his re-election bid. During his time in the Florida Senate, he served as the chairman of the natural resources committee and helped spearhead several environmental protection measures.

Neal has often been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Jeff Atwater as the state’s CFO. While Neal insisted he never thought of himself as a candidate, he said he did enjoy the exploratory phase.

But this wasn’t the first time Neal’s name has been floated as someone who might be at home in the CFO’s office. When Atwater was in the running to become Florida Atlantic University’s president in 2014, Neal was an often mentioned as being a possibility to replace him. The same happened when Atwater considered a U.S. Senate bid.

While it’s been decades since Neal served in the Florida Senate, he hasn’t completely bowed out of politics. State records show he has given $405,700 to candidates and committees in Florida during the 2016 election cycle. Records show the vast majority of that sum went to “Floridians for a Conservative Future,” a political committee in Florida.

His decision not to run means the race is wide open, with candidates on both sides of the aisle pondering whether to run for the seat.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has been mentioned as a possible CFO candidate, and Neal’s decision could make it a bit easier for him to jump in the race. The Miami Republican recently ended his U.S. Senate bid, but could be gearing up for another run at a statewide office in 2018.

Others who could be considering the office may include Sens. Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes. Much like Neal, Lee’s name was floated in 2014. Also under consideration back in 2014 were Sen. Don Gaetz, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and former state Rep. Seth McKeel.

 

Jac VerSteeg: How Marco Rubio might get Hillary Clinton elected

Marco Rubio says he decided to run for re-election because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state — and therefore the election — to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek re-election only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and commonsense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area — precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

___

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.

Mitch Perry Report for 6.23.16 — Another story on Patrick Murphy enhancing his resume

Forgive us for not being too coherent, having stayed up until the early morning hours today watching the Hillsborough County MPO’s discussion of the TBX project until 2:20 a.m.this morning. You can read our account here.

Although the huge news in Florida Politics yesterday morning was Marco Rubio‘s re-entry into a Senate race he said he would never get back into; you have to believe Rubio feels like he can handle his competition pretty handily.

The Democratic Party, both statewide and nationally, have gone whole hog with Patrick Murphy as being the man who can take the seat (forget the polls that show Alan Grayson to do virtually as well against every Republican, including Rubio).

What about Murphy today, after CBS Miami aired a very damaging report on Murphy’s claims about his role as a small-business man and as a CPA. Some of this had already been reported by the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald‘s Kristen Clark. But it’s damaging.

Check out Jim DeFede‘s story here.

In other news …

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson — the two top Democratic Senate candidates who would lose to Rubio according to a new poll, predictably blasted the Republican for his flip-flop back into the race. Murphy later said on a conference call that the fact that Rubio won’t preclude staying in the Senate for the full six years to run for president again was “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

It’s hard to read Carlos Lopez-Cantera “thank” Rubio for getting into the race. It just is.

Moments after the news became official, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham (a Ron DeSantis supporter), blasted Rubio, saying it’s exactly why people are cynical about politics.

Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor was part of a group of dozens of Democrats holding a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan give them a vote on two different gun-control measures.

St. Petersburg-based trial attorney Augie Ribeiro will reportedly enter the SD 19 race.

Andrew Warren, running to beat Mark Ober for Hillsborough State Attorney, has unveiled a set of ethics reforms for the office.

Stanley Gray explains why he’s the best choice in the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 7 race.

After Senate flip-flop, Patrick Murphy asks how can Floridians trust Marco Rubio?

Treasure Coast Congressman and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy says Floridians should think long and hard about Marco Rubio’s decision to run now for re-election for his U.S. Senate seat, a seat that Rubio insisted he would never run for again over the past year-and-half.

“Who does he think he is that all of a sudden Floridians are going to accept him back after he’s told them how much he doesn’t like the job?,” Murphy asked reporters on a conference call on Wednesday, saying that any employer in the private sector would surely be hesitant at a minimum to rehire an employee who had verbally trashed the place he had worked for over the past year.

PolitiFact listed a series of comments that the Florida GOP Senator has made over the past year on Wednesday, all of them capturing some variation of Rubio saying that he’d either be president next year — or become a private citizen once again — but definitely not a Senator.

In some publications it’s been reported that Rubio won’t commit to serving the completion of another six-year term if elected again this fall, allowing himself the opportunity to take another shot at the presidency if Donald Trump doesn’t take the White House. Congressman Murphy said such an attitude was “unacceptable.”

“Think about this — he won’t even admit that he’ll do a full term,” Murphy said. “The arrogance of that is shocking to me.”

Recent polls show that while Murphy and his main Democratic Senate opponent, Congressman Alan Grayson, had steady leads over every Republican that had been in the race, both fall short of defeating Rubio this fall, which is perhaps why both Murphy and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee were relentless in their attacks on Rubio on Wednesday.

“Senator Rubio thinks the Senate can’t get things done,” said Murphy. “He said ‘we’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen. He said, ‘I’m missing votes because I’m leaving the Senate.’ You know Senator, I just gotta tell you, I think Floridians expect better.”

Murphy participated in the conference call after spending time with his Democratic colleagues in a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that Speaker Paul Ryan allow votes on gun-control measures to be voted on by the entire caucus.

While Murphy was busy lambasting Rubio today, there is no guarantee that the two will match up in a one-on-one general election battle for the Senate come November. According to According to a new Targeted Persuasion survey, 30 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they planned to vote for Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary. Twenty-seven percent of voters polled stated that they supported Murphy; while 5 percent said they planned to vote for Pam Keith.

Murphy said without much enthusiasm at the end of the call that if Grayson were to defeat him in the Aug. 30 primary, he would support him in the general election. But Murphy said that Grayson had “disqualified” himself from the race, referring to Grayson’s once offshore hedge fund.

In April, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report recommending that a House committee keep investigating Grayson. He’s been accused him of improperly managing a hedge fund, not disclosing all his finances and conducting business deals with the federal government that would be a conflict of interest. Grayson has downplayed the investigation, and has suggested that the entire issue has been resolved.

With today’s announcement, the GOP senate field has been reduced to three people. In addition to Rubio, only Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox remain in the race. Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Congressman Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race, following Congressman David Jolly, who announced he would run for re-election for his current congressional seat last Friday, anticipating Rubio’s announcement

Marco Rubio rallies backers, calls for their continued support in Senate bid

Marco Rubio told supporters he needs their help to make sure his 2016 re-election bid is successful.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he was running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. In a statement announcing his decision, Rubio said the Senate will play an important role in the coming years “as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

“Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat,” he said in the statement. “It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio reiterated that message on a call with supporters Wednesday afternoon. He said when his presidential bid came to an end, he was committed to the decision not to run again. But when his friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, asked him to consider another run, Rubio said he would think about it.

Rubio said he spent the weekend with his family discussing the possibility, and told supporters he has “always been in public service for the desire to make a difference.”

Rubio acknowledged the race will be difficult, and said it will likely be an expensive proposition. Rubio encouraged supporters to donate, telling them he can’t do it without their help.

The late entry into the race means Rubio about two months to build his campaign infrastructure and raise a substantial amount of campaign cash.

The race is expected to be an expensive one. Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported Carlos Beruff told campaign staff he was prepared to put another $10 million to $15 million into the race. The newspaper reported Beruff has already spent more than $4 million of his own money on the race.

Beruff and Orlando Republican Todd Wilcox both said they plan to continue their Senate bid, despite Rubio’s decision to run again. Three other Republicans — Lopez-Cantera, Rep. David Jolly, and Rep. Ron DeSantis — have dropped their Senate bids.

Rubio told supporters believes if he wins, Republicans will retain their Senate majority. He also said he plans to spend time on the campaign trail rallying support from Floridians.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

Reversing course, Marco Rubio announces he will seek re-election

It’s official: Marco Rubio is running for re-election.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he planned to run again in 2016. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about whether Rubio would seek another term in the U.S. Senate. The decision reverses a pledge to return to private life when his term was over in January.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes,” said Rubio in a statement. “I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate. I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or to have all the answers.”

Rubio announced in 2015 he was running for the presidency. While he was considered by many to be a top contender, his presidential campaign failed to gain steam. He suspended his campaign in March, following a poor showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio received 27 percent of the vote, coming in second behind Republican Donald Trump. Trump won nearly 46 percent of the vote, coming out on top in most of the state’s 67 counties.

In his announcement Wednesday, Rubio said: “no matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.”

“With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantánamo,” he said. “And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus, and a record debt.”

Rubio said the prospect of a “Trump presidency is also worrisome.”

“It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable,” said Rubio. “If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”

Political observers have long said the state’s Senate race will be one to watch, and Republicans have said it could be key to keeping control of the Senate. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning found Rubio was the best bet for Republicans in a general election matchup.

The survey found Rubio would defeat Democrat Patrick Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent. In a hypothetical matchup between Rubio and Democrat Alan Grayson, Rubio would receive 48 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 40 percent.

Rubio said Wednesday the Senate is a place “from which you can perform great services for the people you have the honor of representing.” He also called the Senate a place “from which great policy advances can be made.”

“But as we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president,” he said. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio’s decision, which comes just two days before the end of the qualifying period, has already had an impact on the Republican field. Five Republicans had initially thrown their hat in the race to replace Rubio, but that number is quickly dwindling.

Rep. David Jolly announced last week that he was dropping his Senate bid, choosing to run for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also expected to end his Senate bid.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend of Rubio’s and a Senate candidate, said he encouraged Rubio to reconsider his decision. Lopez-Cantera said he would not file to run if Rubio decided to get in the race, and on Wednesday made it official.

“As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida.”

Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff both said they plan to stay in the race, regardless of Rubio’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Beruff said he is “not going to back down from the Washington establishment.”

“This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them,” said Beruff. “Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Wilcox said he decided to run “because of the complete failure on the part of our elected civilian leadership to solve the problems we face as a nation.”

“I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot.  We need to elect serious leaders that understand our enemies and our economy,” said Wilcox. “I have 27 years of real world experience in national security and the economy, experience that is desperately needed in Washington now more than ever. None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race.”

Rubio has already received the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The organization swiftly issued a statement saying Rubio will have its full support.

“Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again,” said Sen. Roger F. Wicker, the chair of the NRSC. “Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC.”

The decision to run for re-election means Rubio will have to spend the next few weeks campaigning across the state.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30, but vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to military and overseas voters on July 16. Elections officials will begin sending vote-by-mail ballots to domestic voters beginning July 26.

While Rubio may be the most well-known candidate in the race, he could face some challenges. According to the Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 45 percent of Floridians said they approve of the job he is doing in the U.S. Senate; while 44 percent said they disapproved.

Rubio said he made the decision after discussing it with his wife and their four children while in West Miami for Father’s Day.

“There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation,” he said. “In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice.”

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Reporter Scott Powers contributed to this report.

Why Im Running - Marco Rubio for US Senate EDIT

Carlos Lopez-Cantera officially drops out of Florida’s U.S. Senate race

Shortly after Marco Rubio officially announced he would be running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat, his good friend Carlos Lopez-Cantera said he would be dropping out of the race.

“I want to thank all of my supporters in this campaign, and I want to congratulate and thank Marco for his decision to pursue re-election to the U.S. Senate,” he said in a statement. “As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful, yet difficult, decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be. Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Gov. Scott focusing on Florida.”

When the stories began circulating earlier this month that Rubio was thinking seriously of reversing himself and getting back into the race, one of the most serious barriers to doing so appeared to be his friendship with Lopez-Cantera. Though Rubio had never officially endorsed the lieutenant governor and a man he has known for 20 years, he never shied away from making positive remarks about his candidacy, and in fact hosted a fundraiser for him in Washington.

And Rubio said this about CLC earlier this year in Miami:

“I want to introduce you to a really good friend of mine and someone who could very well be — thanks to [and] with your cooperation — he could be the next Senator from Florida taking the position that I’m going to leave because I’m going to be president. His name is [Lt. Gov.] Carlos Lopez-Cantera,” Rubio said.

But momentum continued to build for Rubio to re-enter the race, with Senate Republicans urging him to do so.

Then came the shooting massacre in Orlando in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12. While both men visited Orlando later that day, the two had a conversation, according to Politico, that led CLC to tell Rubio that “you should reconsider running for your seat.”

The idea that Rubio was using the Orlando tragedy as a pretext to get back into the race was “despicable,” said South Florida Democrat and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy over the weekend.

That led to the last 10 days of Rubio being asked almost daily if he would get into the race. Rubio said late last week that he would spend time with his family in West Miami over the weekend to make his decision, which came Wednesday morning.

“I spent nearly a year on an incredible journey campaigning for this race, and I know firsthand the investment of time, energy and resources that go into this, but this race is bigger than any one person,” Lopez-Cantera said in his statement. “It is critical for Florida, and for the future of our country, that a Republican with the ability to make a difference on the critical issues facing our state and nation wins this seat, and Marco has demonstrated that ability time and time again. With that in mind, I encourage Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox to do what is right and unite behind Marco’s re-election so we can ensure that we have the best candidate with the best ability to represent all of our families in the U.S. Senate.”

For now, Lopez-Cantera will go back full time to his day job, serving as Florida’s lieutenant governor. Rumors have been percolating that he may consider a statewide position, like chief financial officer in 2018, but that is pure speculation at this point.

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