May 17, 2017

Poll boosts Lopez-Cantera as potential candidate for Congress

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@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera could be well-positioned to run for Congress if he wants to, according to a new poll obtained by the Miami Herald.

The robopoll found Lopez-Cantera leading a hypothetical three-way GOP primary field in the race to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida's Democratic-leaning 27th district. The survey was conducted by Front Porch Strategies on behalf of Public Concepts, a top Republican political consulting firm in West Palm Beach run by Randy Nielsen and Rich Johnston. Johnston advised Lopez-Cantera during his short-lived 2016 U.S. Senate campaign.

Lopez-Cantera would start the contest with 57 percent support, according to the poll, compared with 13 percent support for former Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regalado and 3 percent for Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, the only big-name Republican who's declared a candidacy. The error margin was plus-or-minus 5.6 percentage points.

In a potential general election against Miami Democratic state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, Lopez-Cantera would lead by 41-34 percent, the poll found. The error margin was plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Lopez-Cantera has said he's considering a candidacy. The National Republican Campaign Committee reached out to him earlier this month to gauge his interest.

Robopolls usually skew Republican because they miss cellphone-only voters: young, minority and poor people who lean Democratic. But Front Porch had a large polling universe, surveying 301 likely Republican voters for its primary-election sample, and 805 likely voters for its general-election sample. It's the first poll made public since Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement last month. 

The poll also measured how favorably respondents viewed two other top Republicans, Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- and found more unfavorable than favorable opinions. For Scott, 41 percent of respondents viewed him unfavorably, compared to 30 percent who viewed him favorably. For Rubio, the figures were similar: 40 percent unfavorable, and 32 percent favorable.

For Lopez-Cantera, the numbers were 37 percent unfavorable and 55 percent favorable.

An earlier version of this post misstated Barreiro's percentage in the poll.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, MIami Herald staff

May 04, 2017

Rubio taps Lopez-Cantera to head Florida judge-vetting panel

1 Carlos Lopez-Cantera 0621
@PatriciaMazzei

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has been named head of a Florida panel that will vet candidates for federal judicial bench.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced Thursday that Lopez-Cantera will chair Florida's federal judicial nominating commission, or JNC. The commission will be formed by Rubio, a Republican, and Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat. It will take applications for judgeships and send finalists to the two senators.

"This is an extremely important process and I am committed to ensuring that the commission identifies for our senators' consideration the most qualified applicants to serve as U.S. district judges," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement. 

Lopez-Cantera, a Republican, is a longtime Rubio friend who ended his U.S. Senate candidacy last year after Rubio chose to run for reelection.

"Carlos is well-suited for this position and I am confident he is dedicated to this important process and will successfully lead the commission in identifying exceptional candidates to serve on the federal bench in Florida," Rubio said in a statement.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

January 09, 2017

Lopez-Cantera backs Ingoglia's Florida GOP reelection bid

@PatriciaMazzei

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Monday endorsed Blaise Ingoglia's reelection bid as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, taking sides with the man who four years ago defeated Gov. Rick Scott's pick to head the state GOP.

"During the last three years I have traveled tens of thousands of miles across our wonderful state and have had the pleasure of spending time with so many dedicated members of our party," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement that also noted Florida Republicans' success in the November election.

"More times and in more counties than I can remember, our chairman Blaise Ingoglia was there too. As a former State Committeeman for Miami-Dade I can't tell you how much I appreciate a chairman who travels the state spending time at local REC events all the while seeking input on building up our local parties, meeting with our grassroots leaders and then putting those ideas into action."

In a statement of his own, Ingoglia thanked Lopez-Cantera: "We are blessed to have him as a member of our Republican Party and I am grateful for his support and friendship."

Scott has stayed out of the RPOF race among Ingoglia, an Hernando County state representative; Sarasota Republican Christian Ziegler and Lafayette County Alan Levy

In 2013, Ingoglia ousted then-Chairwoman Leslie Dougher, Scott's pick to remain in the job. The relationship between the RPOF and Scott has never mended; the governor is hosting his own ball during President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, an event usually organized by the state party.

But Ingoglia has secured endorsements from big-name Republicans across the state, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and a group of members of Congress. Lopez-Cantera also broke with Scott when he endorsed and campaigned for Rubio during the Republican Senate primary last summer -- and was sidelined by the governor's office as a result.

The party election will take place Saturday in Orlando.

December 13, 2016

Lopez-Cantera gets leadership post in GOP lieutenant governors group

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera was named to the leadership team of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association. He will serve as co-chair for policy in 2017, the group announced Tuesday.

"Today, with a united government in Washington, D.C. and Republicans at all-time highs in the states, we are faced with an incredible opportunity to advance conservative values from coast to coast at every level of government," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement issued by the RLGA. "As the second-in-command in the states, lieutenant governors will play a critical role in determining and defining policy discussions nationwide, and I am humbled to have been chosen by my peers to serve as the RLGA’s Co-Chair for Policy in such a critical and exciting year."

October 16, 2016

In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera

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via @WilliamEMarch

TAMPA — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence to the podium in a Tampa hotel ballroom full of enthusiastic Republicans on Saturday, praised Pence and other GOP leaders and then gave his usual rousing stump pitch.

 

But he did it all, speaking 34 minutes, without once mentioning the name of Pence's running mate, the presidential nominee the Republicans were there to support, Donald Trump.

Rubio this week maintained his tepid support for Trump for president after eight days of scurrilous revelations and accusations of Trump's abusive attitudes toward women.

But if anything, Rubio's speech Saturday night suggests he hopes to put even more distance between himself and Trump.

Rubio emphasized the key role the Senate will play in the next four years, but spoke almost dismissively of the presidential contest.

"I want to talk about the importance of the Senate race," he said. "We all know the importance of the presidential race."

He cited the coming U.S. Supreme Court vacancies, often referenced by reluctant Republicans as a reason to stick by Trump despite the past week's revelations.

"The next president and the next U.S. Senate will probably nominate and confirm up to three Supreme Court justices," who will serve up to 25 years – "the equivalent of three two-term presidencies," he said.

Continue reading "In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera" »

September 22, 2016

How Scott sidelined Lopez-Cantera during the GOP Senate race

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@PatriciaMazzei

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.

More here.

Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press

July 14, 2016

Carlos Lopez-Cantera, attack dog for Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio won't respond to Republican Senate primary rival Carlos Beruff's attacks. But Carlos Lopez-Cantera will.

The lieutenant governor, who dropped out of the Senate race to make way for his longtime friend Rubio to seek re-election, issued a statement Wednesday on behalf of Rubio's campaign after Beruff released a new TV ad accusing Rubio of not being fully behind presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"His record is clear, just like his good friend Charlie Crist, Carlos Beruff continues to flip-flop to try to be everything to everyone," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement. "He's a Crist insider who values political opportunity over Florida's conservative principles."

Rubio's campaign has consistently noted Beruff's ties to Crist, the former governor Rubio defeated in the 2010 Senate race. Beruff maxed out as a Crist donor while Crist was a Republican. Beruff's camp likes to note Beruff never gave Crist money after he became an independent. Rubio's camp likes to note Beruff later nevertheless attended a fundraiser for independent Crist. (Crist is now a Democrat running for Congress in St. Petersburg.)

It's not the first time Lopez-Cantera has jabbed Beruff since leaving the race. Last month he called him a "man driven by ego."

Making matters a little awkward is that Beruff is allies with Gov. Rick Scott -- the man who recruited Lopez-Cantera as his 2014 running mate. Scott didn't endorse Lopez-Cantera while the LG was in the race and has continued to stay out of the contest now that Rubio is back in -- an unusual political situation for a sitting senator.

 

July 05, 2016

Florida Republicans hammer Hillary Clinton over emails

@PatriciaMazzei

FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday called Hillary Clinton "extremely careless" in her use of private email while Secretary of State, but recommended no charges against her. That prompted backlash from Florida Republicans. Comey, it's worth mentioning, is a Republican.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:

The FBI concluded what many Americans have known for quite some time, which is that Hillary Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State and her mishandling of classified information was disgraceful and unbecoming of someone who aspires to the presidency. There is simply no excuse for Hillary Clinton's decision to set up a home-cooked email system which left sensitive and classified national security information vulnerable to theft and exploitation by America’s enemies. Her actions were grossly negligent, damaged national security and put lives at risk.

Hillary Clinton's actions have sent the worst message to the millions of hard-working federal employees who hold security clearances and are expected to go to great lengths to secure sensitive government information and abide by the rules. They don't take their oaths lightly, and we shouldn't expect any less of their leaders.

Hillary Clinton’s reckless and thoughtless mishandling of classified information is not the end of the story however. It’s only a matter of time before the next shoe drops and the nexus of corruption and controversy that has surrounded Hillary Clinton throughout her time in public office produces yet another scandal for the American people to endure. Given the consequential and challenging times in which we live, America simply cannot afford any more Clinton drama.

Continue reading "Florida Republicans hammer Hillary Clinton over emails" »

June 24, 2016

Lopez-Cantera bids Senate campaign farewell with call to supporters

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said good-bye to his U.S. Senate campaign Friday with a call to supporters in which he thanked them and promised to be "fully behind" Marco Rubio's re-election bid.

"I'm going to do what I can to help Marco," Lopez-Cantera told the Miami Herald after the call.

That's in contrast to Gov. Rick Scott, who is sitting out the Republican primary between Rubio and Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff.

Lopez-Cantera, who stepped aside after urging Rubio to run, got in a jab at Beruff, noting he didn't show up to the last grassroots event Lopez-Cantera attended recently in Venice, near Sarasota.

This will be the first election since 2006 in which Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative and Miami-Dade County property appraiser, isn't on a ballot.

He said he might attend Rubio's first fundraiser, Sunday in Miami.

With Rubio running, Lopez-Cantera formally calls off ritzy fundraiser

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio was supposed to headline a fundraiser Friday night for Carlos Lopez-Cantera's U.S. Senate campaign.

When Rubio announced Wednesday he would run for re-election instead, Lopez-Cantera dropped out of the race. But it was unclear what would happen to the planned gathering of deep Republican pockets at Coral Gables' luxe Biltmore Hotel.

Friday morning, Lopez-Cantera's campaign made official that the reception was off. There was no way to turn the gathering into a fundraiser for Rubio instead, the Miami Herald learned.

"We sincerely thank all of the hosts who worked to make the event a success!" Lopez-Cantera finance director told backers ni an email. "Your continued support throughout the campaign has been incredible and on behalf of Carlos and the entire campaign team we cannot thank you enough."

Lopez-Cantera has scheduled a 5 p.m. conference call to thank supporters.