Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera announced on Tuesday that he was backing Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., in what is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the Sunshine State next year.
Lopez-Cantera praised Sturgill who had chaired the board of the Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce and served on the Seminole County Soil and Water Commission.
“Scott Sturgill has a proven record of success in the private sector and this experience will serve him well when he represents the residents of Central Florida in Congress,” Lopez-Cantera said. “He will be an effective leader for lower taxes and a strong economy in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am proud to support him."
“Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera is one of our great conservative leaders," Sturgill said about his new endorsement. “I am happy to have his support as I seek to return CD7 to Republican control.”
Sturgill does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination as state Rep. Mike Miller is also in the race. The Republican field could expand with possible candidates including Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg and state Sen. David Simmons.
Murphy, who edged longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., last year in an upset, is considered a top target for Republicans next year.
Lopez-Cantera made his political debut in 2002 when he unsuccessfully ran for the Florida House. Two years later, he won a House seat, rising to become GOP whip and then House majority leader before facing term limits in 2012. Lopez-Cantera ran for and was elected Miami Dade County property appraiser before being named to his current post by Gov. Rick Scott at the start of 2014. In 2015, Lopez-Cantera launched a bid for the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race but he dropped out of the race when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced he would run for a second term. Back in December, Lopez-Cantera was named as part of the leadership team of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association (RLGA) focusing on policy.