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

First on the CNN Ticker: Florida senator to resign seat

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, will announce that he is resigning his seat.

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. Obama 2.0

    Thank you for the Sotomayor vote.

    August 7, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The new GOP philosophy – QUIT

    August 7, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  3. Gary

    lol Christ can appoint himself (or Jeb Bush)...

    August 7, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Kristi

    Can Crist appoint himself?

    August 7, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Steve in Kentucky

    You've gotta love the way democracy plays out in Florida.

    August 7, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. Thermometer

    Surprising! Wonder what led to his decision to resign. Could it be the fall out (party pressures) of having voted for Sonia Sotomayor?

    August 7, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. Excuse me?

    Wonder if ole Gov. Charlie (my marriage is a sham just to please the religious right and promote my political ambitions) Crist will just appoint himself? Too bad he can't. This native Floridian would love to see him GO AWAY and I'll be working to make sure it's not to D.C.

    August 7, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  8. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    Thank you Senator Martinez for resigning. I wish Bill Nelson would do the same. We are tired of Senators not listening to us here in Florida. We want Healthcare. We don't want drilling off of our shores. We don't want Senators thinking they are above the people that are stuggeling down here in Florida. If it wasn't for the Presidents Stimulus package I would not have gotten my job back along with 700 people in the Broward School District alone. The Miami Police chief called the stimulus money a "Gift from God", on Fox news the other day.

    Please Crist....appoint someone that will listen to us.

    August 7, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  9. Clay

    As a constituent, all I can say is good riddance.

    August 7, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  10. Kevin in Ohio

    Its a shame that old democrat senators like Byrd and Kennedy don't do the same.

    August 7, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  11. Sara

    He should appoint Marco Rubio in the interim!

    August 7, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  12. Lauren from Tallahassee, FL

    Hopefully Gov. Crist will not win the senate seat in 2010.

    We need a good democrat in that senate seat along side Bill Nelson.

    August 7, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. gl, From Pittsburgh

    This is a very bad for the Repubicans because they need all the Senates they can get. In the Repubicasn Party, there is no room for moderates and they are jumping the ship.

    August 7, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. JPM

    I wonder what scandal is about to break....

    August 7, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. Art

    Musical chairs again in the Republican Party. Charlie Crist will name himself to the seat. What a shame.

    August 7, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. Makena

    Can Crist appoint himself to the seat?

    August 7, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Reggie A

    Has anyone told Joe Scarboro?

    August 7, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. GOP = Party of Tolerance

    I am sure Gov. Christ will appoint the most qualified person to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate: former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

    August 7, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Marcelle

    I know myself and many others would be glad to see another democrat to work along side Bill Nelson. Crist hasn't done anything that I applaud and there are several good democratic competitors for seat.

    August 7, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. kev

    this was only done so Gov Christ can appoint himself

    August 7, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  21. yuri

    We can't get rid of the naggin' feelig that he is followin' the foot steps of Palin. GOP is becomin' more and more moribund, for some reason.

    August 7, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  22. George

    He is probably ashamed of his party. Ones with brains are ashamed of it.

    August 7, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. kyle

    This is just going to be a mess, I bet Crist appoints himself, what a tool.

    August 7, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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