The ongoing recounts in several races in Florida after the midterm elections November 6th have created a lot of drama. Races that seemed settled on Election Night were challenged, with the contests for Governor, Senator, and Agriculture Commissioner being deemed too close to call. Now that the deadline for machine recounts has passed and we know how many votes remain that could potentially be counted (overvotes and undervotes), we can say that it’s highly unlikely that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) will be Florida’s next governor.
But it’s also highly unlikely that Congressman Ron DeSantis (R) will be the next governor either.
That’s right, the next governor of the Sunshine State will be someone else entirely.
Meet Carlos Lopez-Cantera. He’s the current Lieutenant Governor of Florida. Previously, he was Miami-Dade Property Appraiser and served several terms in the Florida House of Representatives.
And he’s going to be governor for just under a week.
Here’s why: Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is almost certain to be declared the winner of his battle for the Senate seat against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D). Sorry, Democrats, but there aren’t enough votes remaining, despite all the legal maneuvers, to help Nelson overcome his nearly 13,000 vote deficit.
The next step for Scott would be to be sworn into office as the junior senator from Florida. The Senate’s term is scheduled to begin on January 3, 2019, so he would have to be sworn in no later than that morning in order to take his place with the incoming Senate class.
However, the next governor’s term won’t begin until January 8, 2019. Scott will have to resign as governor before he can be sworn in as senator, and Florida can’t just not have a governor, even for such a short period.
Theoretically, Scott could delay being sworn in as a senator, but that risks his seniority in the Senate, placing him in a tier below every other senator elected this fall, instead of on equal footing with them.
So, barring some sort of historically unprecedented last-minute wrench thrown in the works (this is still Florida we’re talking about and anything is possible), Lopez-Cantera will be governor for five days.
This isn’t the first time Florida has had a governor for only a few days. In 1987, Wayne Mixson was governor from January 3 through 6, taking the reins from Bob Graham, who similarly stepped down as governor to be sworn into the U.S. Senate. Mixson led the state for only three days, so Lopez-Cantera’s five-day gubernatorial term will be the second-shortest in Florida history.
The third shortest term was Buddy MacKay, who was Gov. Lawton Chiles’ lieutenant governor and took over after Chiles died of a heart attack near the end of his term. MacKay was governor from December 12, 1998 to January 5, 1999.
So, congratulations to Florida’s next governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. He will be the state’s first Cuban-American and Jewish governor.
Looking forward to the term of Governor Carlos @LopezCantera. I predict it will be the most fiscally conservative in Florida history (since the legislature won’t have time to pass any spending bills for him to sign, but still). 😀👍🏻🇺🇸 https://t.co/K9ZYRbJDK3
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) November 15, 2018
UPDATE: As Rick Wilson reminded me, Lopez-Cantera will be history making in another way besides being the first Cuban-Jewish governor of Florida. He will also be the only Florida governor to have killed a python with a knife.
Surprise! Florida’s Next Governor Won’t Be DeSantis or Gillum https://t.co/n7zSXwwsSh
I should also like to point out that @LopezCantera will be the only for the FL governor to have ever killed a python with a knife.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 15, 2018
It’s true: in 2017 Lopez-Cantera participated in the state’s python hunt in the Everglades (the snakes are a non-native invasive species) and took out a 15-foot Burmese python, as seen pictured in the tweet below.
— Carlos Lopez-Cantera (@LopezCantera) May 16, 2017
Photo by David Wilson via Flickr.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.
Cross-posted at The Capitolist.