Since Florida re-established the office of lieutenant governor in 1969, the job has been a political dead end.
Eight men and two women have held the job before current Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. None has gone on to win another elected office.
And the streak probably won’t be broken soon.
Lopez-Cantera announced Sunday that he will not run next year to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, or for any other office in 2018.
“I am honored and grateful to all who have encouraged me to run for Congress but, after thoughtful consideration and deliberation with my family, we have decided that being a candidate in 2018 is not what’s best for our family,” Lopez-Cantera said.
“Beyond 2018, I look forward to spending even more time with my wife and two daughters while remaining involved in the greater Miami-Dade community, helping job creators be more successful, citizens be more empowered, and government be more efficient and accountable. There is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to look for ways to be part of the solution — I may run for office again but not in 2018.”
Lopez-Cantera seemingly has a bright future if he decides to run in 2020 or beyond. He’s only 43, bilingual and has been seasoned in Florida’s largest media market, where he won elections for state House and for Miami Dade property appraiser.
Lopez-Cantera ran for U.S. Senate in 2016 but dropped out when his friend, Sen. Marco Rubio, decided to seek re-election after quitting the presidential race.
Florida had a lieutenant governor from 1865 to 1889, when a constitution change abolished the office. Nearly a century later, a 1968 constitution change re-established the office.
Here’s a brief look at Florida’s lieutenant governors in the modern era and their political fortunes:
• Ray Osborne (1969-71): Appointed by Republican Gov. Claude Kirk in 1969 after a constitution revision reestablished the office, he ran for Senate in 1970 but dropped out of the race before the GOP primary. Originally from the St. Petersburg area, Osborne settled in Boca Raton in the 1970s and practiced law. He died in Boca Raton in 2011.
• Tom Adams (1971-75): Running mate of Democratic Gov. Reubin Askew, he was censured by the state House in 1973 after it was reported that he used state employees in his private business. After Askew dumped him as running mate in 1974, Adams challenged Askew in the Democratic primary and was resoundingly beaten.
• Jim Williams (1975-79): Askew’s second-term running mate, he ran for governor in 1978 but finished fourth in a seven-candidate Democratic primary. He was later appointed by President Jimmy Carter to a U.S. Department of Agriculture post.
• Wayne Mixson (1979-87): Running mate of Democratic Gov. Bob Graham. Graham won a 1986 Senate election and resigned the governorship on Jan. 3, 1987 to take office in Washington. Mixson became governor and served three days until Republican Bob Martinez took office. Mixson didn’t seek office afterward. He recently celebrated his 95th birthday and is Florida’s oldest living ex-governor.
• Bobby Brantley (1987-91): Running mate of Republican Gov. Bob Martinez, he decided to leave politics and did not join Martinez for his unsuccessful 1990 re-election bid. Brantley is now a lawyer and lobbyist.
• Buddy MacKay (1991-98): Running mate of Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, he won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1998 but lost the general election to Republican Jeb Bush. When Chiles died in December 1998, MacKay served as governor for a few weeks until Bush was inaugurated.
• Frank Brogan (1999-2003): Bush’s running mate in 1998 and 2002, he resigned in 2003 to become president of Florida Atlantic University. Brogan later became chancellor of Florida’s university system and now holds that post in Pennsylvania.
• Toni Jennings (2003-07): Tapped by Bush to succeed Brogan, she was encouraged by Bush to run for governor in 2006 but declined.
• Jeff Kottkamp (2007-11): Republican running mate to Gov. Charlie Crist, Kottkamp ran for attorney general in 2010 but lost in the primary to eventual AG Pam Bondi.
• Jennifer Carroll (2011-13): Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s 2010 running mate, she resigned in 2013 shortly after Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators questioned her about Allied Veterans of the World, a St. Augustine-based nonprofit accused of running an illegal gambling ring. Carroll, who once represented Allied Veterans as a public relations consultant, was not accused of wrongdoing but said she wanted to avoid being a “distraction.”
• Carlos Lopez-Cantera (2014-present): Selected by Scott in 2014, he helped Scott win re-election that year. When Rubio launched a 2016 presidential campaign, Lopez-Cantera opened a campaign for Rubio’s seat but bowed out in June 2016 when Rubio decided to seek re-election.