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Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera Enters Race To Fill Rubio's Senate Seat

Kenny Malone
Carlos Lopez-Cantera announces his run for Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat

In a warehouse loading dock just north of Doral, supporters chanted “C-L-C” as Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera announced his run for U.S. Senate.

"I ask for your commitment to ensure that Washington D.C. works for Florida again," the 41-year-old Republican told a small crowd.

In his announcement, Lopez-Cantera described himself as a Washington outsider and said the country could learn some lessons from how Florida has been run over the last few years. He took particular aim at the Obama administration's loosening of trade restrictions with Cuba, an important message to Daniela Ferrera, a 17-year-old campaign volunteer who was born in Cuba.

“American corporations are pouring their money into Cuba," said Ferrera. "And that basically is helping the Cuban regime to continue their human rights violations there.”

Lopez-Cantera was majority leader in the Florida House during his last two years as a state representative.  In 2012 he was elected Miami-Dade County's property appraiser and was picked by Governor Rick Scott to be lieutenant governor a year and half ago.

Supporter Ronald Gawronski first met Lopez-Cantera when they were seventh-graders when Palmetto Middle School was Palmetto Junior High. Gawronski said his long-time friend did "very well" in social studies and, even back then, was conscious of his image.

"Always a polo shirt, pants. You know, always looked like one of the best kids," Gawronski said. "The girls liked him even, and I remembered that. They’d always say: 'Isn’t he cute? Isn’t Carlos so cute?'"

Lopez-Cantera joins U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis in the 2016 Republican primary along with political newcomer Todd Wilcox, who served in the U.S. Army Special Forces before founding a defense contracting company.