October 19th, 2007
03:47 PM ET
12 years ago

Martinez out as RNC chief

Sen. Mel Martinez announced Friday he is resigning from chairman of the RNC.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Florida Sen. Mel Martinez stepped down Friday as general chairman of the Republican National Committee, after serving just nine months on the job.

Martinez, who is the GOP’s most prominent Latino lawmaker, said he accomplished his goal of helping put the RNC in the best position for the 2008 elections.

“It was my goal as General Chairman to lead the Party as it established the structure and raised the resources necessary to support our Presidential candidate and ensure Republican victories next November,” the Florida senator said in a prepared statement released by the RNC. “I believe we have accomplished those goals. That’s why it is the appropriate time for me to step down as General Chairman and continue to focus my energy on serving my constituents in Florida.”

While two GOP sources tell CNN that Martinez does believe he accomplished what he set out to do at the RNC, the sources noted that he also thinks serving in this national post has contributed to a decline in his political standing back home. Martinez is convinced he needs to focus more on his personal politics, the sources said. The senator is not on the ballot in 2008, but he is up for re-election in 2010.

Martinez officially became general chairman in January, when his selection by President Bush was endorsed by the national committee. Bush extended that offer last November, just after Republicans lost control of the House and Senate. Martinez initially declined when then-White House political adviser Karl Rove called to ask him to take the post. But he accepted when the president followed up with a personal appeal. Bush praised Martinez Friday in a statement from the White House shortly after the RNC announced the senator was stepping down.

“As General Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mel has effectively communicated our party's commitment to addressing the issues most important to all Americans,” Martinez said. “His message of hope and opportunity has resonated throughout America and strengthened support for our agenda. Because of his leadership, more Americans understand the Republican Party’s efforts to grow our economy, support our troops, strengthen our schools, and protect our country.”

At the same time Martinez became the general chairman, longtime national party operative Mike Duncan of Kentucky was chosen to be the RNC chairman. Duncan runs the day-to-day affairs of the committee, while Martinez served more in a fundraising and spokesman's role. Duncan will stay on as chairman, and Bush expressed confidence in his ability to lead the national party.

“Mike Duncan has demonstrated that he is an effective Chairman who will help our party win in the next election,” Bush said in the statement. “I have confidence in Mike’s leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him.”

- CNN Chief National Correspondent John King

Filed under: RNC
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Mike, Columbus, Ohio

    "That iceberg really isn't that big; let's get down to re-arranging these deck chairs"


    October 19, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. jim NW Florida

    I agree with the first post. now if we can just get him to resign from the State of FL

    October 19, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. K, Florida

    Did anyone else notice the Mickey Mouse ears on the podium?!?!?!?! Kinda sums up the party these days!

    October 19, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Bradley Schaubs, Greeley, CO

    Seems like every day, another Republican is jumping ship and joining the rescuers of the Democrat's Carpathia (the analogy here is Titanic = Republicans, Carpathia = Democrats).

    Bush is captain, and hopefully, he'll go down with his ship. Wouldn't mind if first mate Ann Coulter went down with him. She'll go mad when the GOP is decommissioned for good.

    October 19, 2007 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. Tom Wright, Santa Barbara, CA

    Yeah! This guy is an ethnocentric zealot who contributed to the black eye Republicans such as McCain, Graham, ad nauseam, over pandering to illegal aliens.

    Good riddens to Martinez.....let's hope the inner circle does offer up a similar lacky to replace him, but instead gets someone who has not abandoned Republican principles and ideals...which means Jorge Bush should not participate in the process.

    October 19, 2007 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Don Longmont, CO

    Maybe if the TOP Republican would leave his office, WE THE PEOPLE, could have our country back.

    October 19, 2007 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  7. Evan Esteves, Boca Raton, FL

    Probably the worst Senator my state has ever had...

    October 19, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  8. Paul C., Palmetto Bay, FL

    Mel is a one note Senator.
    The sad fact is that there are a lot of people that support him and that disaster of a president.
    It is true that you can fool most of the people all of the time. Cry wolf loud enough and the brave Republicans cringe and equate stubborn and stupid with strong.

    October 19, 2007 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. T, Frederick, MD

    Mel did a good job...no charisma though.

    Michael Steele should have been the RNC chair.

    October 19, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. Ian

    His statement that he has 'ensured Republican victories in '08' shows why he is being replaced - he's delusional. The Republicans are not in good shape for the '08 elections.

    October 19, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  11. FT doylestown,Pa

    Mel...Mel...AMNESTY "MEL".
    Your the Reason they have lost $'s (I told them No Pesos Mel = No Dollars)After the July Amnesty Bill Old Mel Pushed like a Pimp. I say GOOD RIDDENS...don't let the door hit your ....
    Now Folks ...we have to get the Candidates to Understand What a Republican Really is ...or they also can find the Door.
    Unlike the Dem's...Republicans Have Principles and Do Not Compromise Values. Like losing SOVEREIGNTY and
    Surrendering AMERICA to Mexico!!!
    Republicans are Not worried....Seems it's all the Democrats
    with the comments of concern for us.
    Hey...I think you better Check Out the China Town Connection and worry about your own House! lots of Funny money from DishWasher donating Thousands of Dollars??? STRANGE stuff...like the "OLD DAYS"!

    October 19, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  12. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    J. Taylor, CA,

    "Why isn't CNN covering the over $2 million dollars that Senator Harry Reid's smear letter fetched on Rush Limbaugh's ebay auction today ..."

    Hey J. Taylor? READ much? It's right on the CNN home page!

    "What? Dow hits all time high just last week during a bad economy? Look where it's at compared to just several months ago. The economy is doing just fine. My portfolio is doing nothing by growing."

    Ummm ... you mean "is doing nothing BUT growing"? SPELL much?

    HINT: The stock market is nothing more than a legalized gambling vehicle – and as such, is not as direct an indicator of the average American's financial state as say, CONSUMER DEBT is.

    Obviously reading, spelling and spinning are not your strong points!

    No wonder your party is in it's "last throes"! Save some of that spin for after the next presidential election.

    You'll need it!

    October 19, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  13. Frank Virginia Beach VA

    Wishful thinking on the part of Dems, his reasons are not nice, but they are not what CNN's suggesting. Do your homework folks, or be stupid and follow the crowd just like the Dems want you to.

    October 19, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |


    October 19, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  15. Jenna

    Good job

    October 20, 2007 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  16. Pete, Seattle, WA

    2008 Presidential Candidate Weekly Poll


    Results posted Tuesday Evening at Midnight.

    October 20, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
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