December 3rd, 2008
05:40 AM ET
12 years ago

Schneider: Martinez decision signifies problems for GOP

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Martinez announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection."](CNN) - Senator Mel Martinez's decision not to run for re-election in 2010 for his seat from Florida signifies the failure of the Republican Party's outreach to minorities, and it points to difficulties Republicans could face in the 2010 election.

Republicans have always taken special pride in Senator Martinez. He's the former chairman of the Republican Party and the only Latino Republican in the Senate. His decision not to run for a second term indicates problems for the Republican Party.

"We need to have a legislative agenda that is centrist, that tends to be bipartisan, and stay away from those issues that have been so divisive in the past," said Martinez said last month.

One of those issues is immigration reform, which Martinez championed in the Senate. But many in the Republican Party were vocal in the opposition to immigration reform and critical of Martinez for his position.

"He has been under a great deal of pressure in Florida over immigration issues," says Matt Towrey, a political analyst who heads the polling for the political information firm Insider Advantage.

Martinez is the symbol of Republican outreach to Latino voters. That outreach failed this year. Among Latino voters nationwide, the Republican vote for Congress dropped 15 points from 2004 to 2008 - from 44 to 29 percent.

"Mel Martinez isn't strong enough to overcome the issues that otherwise took his backing of Latino voters away from the Republicans," adds Towrey.

Issues like the economy and the unpopularity of President Bush.

Republicans ought to be hopeful about 2010. The opposition party usually makes gains in a midterm election. But Republicans will be defending 19 seats, including Martinez's seat in Florida, while the Democrats will be trying to hold onto 17 seats.

Florida went for Obama this year. That could spell trouble for the GOP as they try to hold on to Martinez's seat in the next election.

"If Obama were to turn the economy around, then yes, it becomes very problematic, because Florida is a state that is very much on the edge," says Towrey.

Obama won Florida by three points this year. In 2004, Mel Martinez won Florida by just one point. And 2004 was a much better Republican year

Filed under: Bill Schneider
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. John E Lexington KY

    The GOP drowned itself in New Orleans. McCain drew as many votes as a GOP candidate could. The party needs to take itself out in the back yard and end its misery. As presently constituted it will not lead any branch of government for the foreseeable future.

    December 3, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Ken in Dallas

    Immigration reform, hmmm.

    Most of us miss the point on this issue. Immigration reform is a red herring, a diversion; the real policy issue is the exploitation of imported labor for the purpose of lowering the American standard of living. Immigration reform could be done in such a way as to inhibit that kind of exploitation, but the sitting administration's laissez-faire policy has encouraged the exploitation of foreign labor, to the detriment of American workers.

    It's not that I'm against international competition, but the US is the richest 5% of the world's population, and when one person expecting $7 an hour is in dollar-for dollar competition with 19 people working for $1 a day, he's not going to do well. For the US economy, free trade is suicide.

    We have only two real options: protectionism, or foreign/trade policy intervention designed to raise the standard of living in the countries we trade with. If we do nether of those things, the American standard of living goes down the tubes.

    December 3, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Mari

    TO THE FAR-RIGHT: the GOP is self-destroying, their own lies, hate, fear and division, their own vile politics are destroying the party!

    The Republicans are in trouble, because they do not "get" that America REJECTED their VILE politics! We are SO sick and tired of lies, of the hate being spewed by the extreme right...... like Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, etc.!

    Until the Republicans figure out, that they have to offer some IDEAS and REAL SOLUTIONS, without destroying their opponents they will continue to LOSE!


    December 3, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. elsie

    Is CNN recycling stories now? I am sure I saw this yesterday.

    December 3, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Jon in Talent

    This not an issue for the conservatives. Sen. Martinez is a freaking rino and we are dumping them faster than you can dump a cup of coffee. Don't let the door slam you in the arse Sen.

    December 3, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. CanIcallyouJoe

    Ed Dugan @ 9:46
    "Mel and his counterparts never understood. Most Americans don't want immigration reform, they want immigration, legal or illegal stopped! We don't need any more people right now, thank you."

    So by your logic, any babies being born to people already living here should be denied citizenship and deported?

    Basically, what you're incorrectly stating is that most Americans don't want any more people trying to make their lives better in this country – but only if those people have dark skin.

    Your ignorance is showing.

    December 3, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Rob

    What's almost as funny as these people's rants about how bad Bush is (hey dolts, how many times has the US been attacked since 9/11? – You're welcome), are all of these posts about how racist the Republican party is. What a crock! This is a myth perpetuated by Dems who know that they can fool people. In the election it was the DEMOCRATS bringing up Obama's skin color, not the Republicans. Yet because they don't warmly embrace every slacker, rap artist wannabe, check collecting baby mama, illegal alien, they are considered racist. You get Bill, Jesse, Nancy, Al Sharpton, Hillary, Ludacris, you name it to say Republicans are racist and you all start repeating the mantra like good little mockingbirds. Good thing you all weren't lemmings near a cliff.

    December 3, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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