TALLAHASSSEE — Carlos Lopez-Cantera was sworn in Monday as Florida’s next lieutenant governor during a small, private ceremony held in the governor’s office.
Lopez-Cantera becomes the first Hispanic and Cuban-American in Florida history to hold the position. He will appear on the ballot with Gov. Rick Scott when Scott runs for re-election this fall.
While the job of lieutenant governor is largely ceremonial, Scott said he expects Lopez-Cantera to help him push his agenda during the annual session of the Florida Legislature.
Scott’s top priority is to get legislators to use an expected budget surplus to pay for more than $500 million in tax and fee cuts.
“He’s going to be a great partner, we’re going to have a great year running together,” Scott said.
Lopez-Cantera, 40, is a former state legislator – and ally of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – who had been holding the elected position of Miami-Dade property appraiser.
Scott named Lopez-Cantera to the post in January.
The job of lieutenant governor has been vacant since March 2013. 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.
Lopez-Cantera was sworn in by 1st District Court of Appeal Chief Judge Joseph Lewis Jr. during a ceremony attended by family members.
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.
Over the last several months several names had emerged as possible contenders for the job, but Lopez-Cantera said the Scott administration did not reach out to him about the position until mid-December.