August 7th, 2009
03:05 PM ET
14 years ago

First on the CNN Ticker: Florida senator to resign seat

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, will announce that he is resigning his seat."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, will announce that he is resigning his seat, three GOP sources tell CNN.

The sources said that Martinez will officially announce his intention to step down on Friday. The Florida Republican, first elected in 2004, announced in December of last year that he would retire in 2010.

Florida law states that Gov. Charlie Crist may temporarily appoint someone to the vacant seat until the next general election. As of Friday morning, it was unclear what Crist would do. Crist announced in May he would not seek another term as governor, and instead would run for Martinez's seat.

Martinez is the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate. He joined eight other Republicans Thursday in voting to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats currently hold a tenuous filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, with 60 votes. Martinez is one of six Republicans who have stated they would not seek re-election in 2010. But the Florida senator is the second Republican who has decided to leave before the curtain drops on the 111th Congress next fall.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, recently announced her intention to quit the Senate three years before her term expires in order to run for governor next year.

The five other Republicans who are retiring include: Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning and Ohio Sen. George Voinovich.

Two Democrats will not run in 2010, Illinois Sen. Roland Burris and Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman. Republicans must defend 19 seats next year, while Democrats must protect 18.

Full statement from Martinez:

Because you're a friend, I wanted you to know first about the decision I will announce today to step down from public office.

Twelve years ago I offered myself as a candidate for public office in Florida out of a deep sense of appreciation for what America and the people of Florida did for me as a young immigrant to this country.

In 1997, Kitty and I decided it was time to give back and we entered the public arena, first as Mayor of Orange County, then as a Member of the President's cabinet and now as a United States Senator. Through those experiences I have gained the greatest respect for the people of Florida and have enjoyed serving their interests.

When I began my term as Senator, I promised I wouldn't simply warm a seat; I promised to take on the difficult issues and work to make a difference. Keeping that promise has meant pressing for help and assistance for families struggling to keep their homes, their jobs, and their confidence that our country is safe.

And on that note, I am especially grateful to the men and women of our military and their families whom I have had the distinct honor of representing in Washington and I thank them for their service to our country.

As a US Senator, I have also had a platform to speak against the oppression of the Cuban regime and my hope for a better future for the people of Cuba. I will continue that lifelong passion in the next phase of my life.
I will always be grateful to the people of Florida for bestowing on me the singular honor of representing them in the United States Senate.

My priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country and at this stage in my life, and after nearly twelve years of public service in Florida and Washington, it's time I return to Florida and my family.

So today I am announcing my decision to step down from public office, effective on a successor taking office to fill out the remainder of my term.

I have enjoyed my time in the Senate and have the utmost respect for my colleagues and the institution. I especially thank Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for his guidance and insight.

I look forward to continuing to be an active and constructive voice on issues vital to Florida and our nation, and being an active member of Florida's Republican Party.

Lastly, Kitty and I would like to thank you for all your support. You have been helpful in countless ways. As I begin this new chapter in my life, I look forward to seeing more of you and your family.

(Updated 1 p.m.)

Filed under: Florida • Mel Martinez
soundoff (357 Responses)
  1. Zach K

    As a Democrat, the GOP needs to reorganize badly. The Tea Party, Birthers, Health Care, and many other protests are damaging the party severely.

    The last thing America needs is a third party in congress. If that happens, absolutely nothing will get done.

    August 7, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. John

    I think everyone should only do 6 years, 1 term. I'm tired of democrats and republicans making public office a life long choice.

    We need to pass laws stating 1 term, then out. New ideas, each and every election season. 1 Term for everyone, president to dog catcher.

    August 7, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. Al Tampa

    Good riddance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As an American you were an Embarrassment .
    As a fellow Hispanic you were even a bigger Embarrassment!!!!

    August 7, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. Steve (the real one)

    @ Dutch/Bad Newz, VA August 7th, 2009 10:36 am ET

    The new GOP philosophy – QUIT
    Kinda like Rattner, the Car Czar. Oh wait he is a dem! I know he was not elected. I also know he did not finish his term!

    @Kristi August 7th, 2009 10:37 am ET
    Can Crist appoint himself?
    Unless Fl state law says otherwise. Crist can appoint himself!

    August 7, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Alex NJ

    Steve – he announced last year that he wouldn't run for re-election in 2010. He's now announcing that he's leaving immediately. Nowhere near the same – and much to Crist's dismay, since it would look really bad to appoint himself to take Martinez's seat.

    August 7, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. J.T.

    >Cindy: Perhaps he cannot stand the stench of his own party anymore! The party of "no" knows no boundary of how low they will go to get their own way. They could care less about what is right for the American people.

    Since the mob mentality worked in stealing the vote for W, they think it can work to get what they want in Healthcare

    As a "FORMER" Republican,I came to my senses and left the party
    over 10 years ago, how long will it take the rest of America to see
    Republicans are owned by big business and don't give one iota about what is right for us


    Totally, because the way American politics works, when you're the minority party, your supposed to just sit back and approve everything the president or majority party proposes. Right? I mean that's the way Democrats were with Bush. And what does mob mentality have to do with stealing the vote for W? The mob mentality is when those in the majority abuse the rights of the minority. If the election was stolen, that would be the opposite of a mob mentality.

    August 7, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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