Something unusual happened to Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera this month: Gov. Rick Scott started giving him things to do again.
None of it was heavy lifting. But the change to Lopez-Cantera’s public schedule was immediate and striking: The calendar hit September, and the Miami-based lieutenant was hitting the road, touring businesses, visiting schools and attending meetings after a summer of political exile.
For three months, Lopez-Cantera had hardly been visible in matters of state — while Scott had one of his busiest seasons in office. The Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Zika virus outbreak in Miami. The Hurricane Hermine aftermath in Tallahassee. Scott moved from crisis to crisis, seizing the chance to appear on camera as a hands-on chief executive.
Lopez-Cantera played little part. He could have served as a Spanish-speaking surrogate to the families of the Orlando victims, many of whom were Hispanic. He could have been a constant state presence in his hometown of Miami as Zika cases piled up.
Instead, his calendar usually listed him as having “no scheduled events.”
“Carlos hasn’t had anything to do, other than show up at a photo op,” said his predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “Which is a discredit to him, because the people elected a governor and a lieutenant governor to work on their behalf.”
A Miami Herald review of the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s public schedules from June 12 (the day of the Pulse shooting) to Aug. 30 (the day of the Florida primary) found 254 events for Scott, compared to only 21 for Lopez-Cantera. On at least four occasions, Scott attended an event in Miami-Dade or Broward counties — within driving distance from Lopez-Cantera’s Coral Gables home — without the LG.
What changed in September? The primary was over. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had crushed Republican challenger Carlos Beruff.
Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press