Carlos Lopez-Cantera is Florida’s second-in-command behind Gov. Rick Scott, but there are still pockets of the state he has only heard about.
That included Zephyrhills, until he finally found his way to the City of Pure Water last week in a campaign stop in front of the Conservative Club of East Pasco. And while he might talk about how the governor has kept is word to the point that “even Democrats can’t deny it,” Lopez-Cantera had almost nothing good to say about who Scott succeeded and is facing again in the November election: Charlie Crist.
“When Gov. Scott took over, we had lost 830,000 jobs, and had an 11.1 percent unemployment rate,” all from the Crist administration, Lopez-Cantera said. “Since then, we have added 640,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.”
Yet while some might point out the entire nation was in an economic crisis during a good part of Crist’s tenure as governor between 2007 and 2011, Lopez-Cantera accused the former governor of continuously abandoning his post when he was needed the most.
“He didn’t even want to be governor when he was governor,” Lopez-Cantera said of Crist. “The first two years, he was chasing the vice presidency and not focusing on the state. The second two years, he was running for a United States Senate seat. And he is the first governor in the history of Florida to not run for re-election. That is how much he cared about being governor.”
Lopez-Cantera was a member of the Florida House representing the Miami area during Crist’s time in the governor’s office, and said he withdrew support of the governor almost from the beginning, despite the two being members of the same political party at the time.
“I have known Charlie for almost 20 years, and I really got to know him when I was a new member of the Florida House,” Lopez-Cantera said. “That’s when I lost faith in him.”
The lieutenant governor said problems started for him when then House Speaker Marco Rubio wanted to pass a much more aggressive property tax bill that would provide larger exemptions on the first $200,000 of a home’s value, and then 15 percent beyond that. Crist, however, “wanted a simple property tax bill, and that is unfortunately what the citizens of Florida got.”
Lopez-Cantera and Rubio, however, would vote for Crist’s version of the bill in a special session, using a property tax exemption method still used today.
All of Scott’s decisions “have not been popular,” either, Lopez-Cantera said. “But they have been the right decisions for the state’s economy.”
If Scott is re-elected, Lopez-Cantera said residents can expect another $1 million in tax cuts, and another $120 million assessed through cellphone usage.
Lopez-Cantera assumed the lieutenant governor’s office in February following the resignation of Jennifer Carroll, Crist’s original running mate in 2010. She resigned last year after she was questioned about her alleged involvement in pushing money toward Internet cafes, which some say are fronts for illegal gambling in the state.
“I talk to the governor all the time about the turnaround here in the state,” Lopez-Cantera said. “I’ve only been here for eight months, but I get to take credit for all his hard work. This is the hardest-working governor that I have ever seen, and I served with three governors.”
Campaign speeches tend to just lightly touch on a number of different issues voters may care about, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera had a lot to say in Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign against former governor Charlie Crist. But what’s the full story behind some of Lopez-Cantera’s statements? Go online right now, and reach our fact-check at tinyurl.com/LtGovCheck.
Published October 1, 2014
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