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.

June 20, 2016

Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race

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@ByKristenMClark & @MichaelAuslen

Three main contenders for Florida's U.S. Senate seat have officially secured their positions on the party ballots, and a couple newcomers also staked a claim in the race as the qualifying period for Florida's August primary elections began today.

Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republicans Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox all pre-filed their paperwork -- along with a $10,440 check -- earlier this month to qualify for the ballot.

Several other candidates actively campaigning have yet to file -- including several Republicans, and Democrats Alan Grayson and Pam Keith. They have until noon Friday to do so.

The Republican field remains largely in limbo, as uncertainty swirls about whether Sen. Marco Rubio will seek re-election despite promising during his presidential campaign that he would leave the Senate if he lost the March presidential primary.

Rubio has signaled for several weeks a growing change of heart and said last week, in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, that he was re-considering his pledge to become a private citizen again in 2017. He had said he would take this past weekend to consider his options.

Until he announces his plans, other Republican candidates appear to be biding their time. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, had not filed to qualify, as of this afternoon.

Lopez-Cantera, a close friend of Rubio, said he will step aside if the senator runs again. DeSantis has hinted that he also may leave the race if Rubio runs. U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, announced Friday that he will seek re-election to his congressional seat, rather than continuing his Senate campaign.

Meanwhile, the Democratic field grew more crowded with two previously unknown contenders qualifying: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and real estate developer "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente, who still has an active presidential campaign based in San Diego.

Continue reading "Republican, Democratic fields take shape for Florida U.S. Senate race" »

June 16, 2016

National Republican leader praises Carlos Lopez-Cantera for encouraging Marco Rubio to run

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We caught up today with Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who hailed Florida's Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera as "a patriot, and an unselfish one at that" for encouraging Marco Rubio to run for a second term.

"It's a profoundly pivotal moment in the political history of Florida," Wicker said of Lopez-Cantera urging his longtime friend to run for the seat Lopez-Cantera has been pursuing for nearly a year. "I think he's showing great character, and it's the sort of character that Floridians can be proud of in their lieutenant governor, because he's put his heart and soul in this race for a year."

Lopez-Cantera remains a Senate candidate until Rubio announces a reelection campaign. Wicker said Rubio hasn't confirmed to him he will run again, but that Rubio's friends in Florida believe he will and "indications seem to be that he is headed in that direction."

Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly have said they would drop out of the race if Rubio runs (Jolly is expected to announce his own reelection campaign for the U.S. House on Friday), and Ron DeSantis implied the same today. That leaves self-funders Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox, who have said they won't drop out but would be under intense pressure to do so.

"If they ask me for my advice I would tell them Marco Rubio puts this (Senate seat) in the lean Republican column, and that is very important," the NRSC Chairman said by phone. "Who is majority leader of the senate is very important to our country over the next two years. Who sets the agenda is very important."

The NRSC has remained steadfastly neutral in the senate primary to date, he noted, but "It's clearly our policy at the NRSC to support incumbents when they're running for reelection."

- Adam Smith, Tampa Bay Times