TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Rick Scott will fill the long-vacant post of lieutenant governor with a former state legislator and ally of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, two people with knowledge of the posting said Monday.
Scott will announce the appointment of Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera in Miami on Tuesday, according to the individuals, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Melissa Sellers, a spokeswoman for Scott, refused to confirm the selection of Lopez-Cantera. Lopez-Cantera did not respond to a text message and telephone call requesting comment.
Lopez-Cantera, 40, was born in Madrid, Spain, but grew up in Miami.
He spent eight years in the House, rising to the position of House majority leader in 2010 before he was forced to leave in 2012 due to term limits. He was elected property appraiser in 2012 after working as a real estate agent and serving on the Miami-Dade County planning advisory board.
His appointment comes almost 10 months after former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll abruptly resigned after she was interviewed by law enforcement authorities about work she once did for a charity that prosecutors have said was a front for a widespread gambling ring. She has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Scott is filling the spot of lieutenant governor a week after he was sued by a Tallahassee lobbyist and political activist for leaving the position vacant since March. Barbara DeVane, who filed the suit with the Florida Supreme Court, contended Scott was breaking a state law that requires him to appoint a lieutenant governor.
Florida went nearly 100 years without the post of lieutenant governor until it was revived in 1968. The job, which pays nearly $125,000, has no real defined responsibilities besides replacing the governor if he leaves office or dies.
Shortly after Carroll resigned, Scott shuttered her office and fired the employees. The governor initially said he planned to wait until after the 2013 legislative session – which ended in early May – to look for a new lieutenant governor. He also said he planned to put his chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, in charge of the search.
The selection of Lopez-Cantera could help Scott with Hispanic voters as well as voters in populous Miami-Dade County. His connections with the Legislature could also help Scott during the upcoming session.
During his time in the Legislature, Lopez-Cantera disagree with Scott. When Scott criticized the level of education funding in the state budget in 2011, Lopez-Cantera called the governor’s comments a “mischaracterization.” The Miami Republican pointed out that legislators set aside more money for schools than Scott himself had recommended.