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. Arnold

    I would not like Crist to appoint himself or win the 2010 senate seat.

    I'm a native Floridian and do not think he has done any good for Florida. We need a democrat, clearly.

    I don't understand why all these republicans are quitting before their term is up. Plenty of politicians don't run for re-election, but don't resign. That's just quitting to me no matter how Palin wants to dress it up or disguise it.

    August 7, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Boon

    Good luck Senator. Appoint someone that can at least slow down the Democrats from wrecking our economy as worse than they already have. Dem's have both houses and the Presidency and still can't make it happen – whats new and different.

    August 7, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Dorothy

    well lets see ;republicans just lost more hispanic votes by not voting for sotomayor. Maybe they will put him on the 2012 ticket. hopefully he'll have more brains then Sara Palin. I see The Republican Wonder ticket coming . Lets see what rabbit comes out of the hat. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    August 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. mabear

    Too bad. He was one of a handful of Republicans that are real people and not the extreme right phony evangelicals that make up the rest of the Senate. I doubt Sessions and Cronyn graduated from a real University, and if they did, I suspect they cheated on most or all of their exams, just like they are cheating the people of America by supporting the elitist corporations and rich citizens who have never paid their fair share of taxes. Why doesn't Orrin Hatch resign? He has been there longer than should be allowed.

    August 7, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Rob

    Well, Crist wants the spot, he he he– now what!!! he has to appoint someone, what will he do appoint a puppet so the dems can shred that candidate, this is funny, I guess Mel see the Republicans for what they are, only 8 of them and himself voted for a hispanic (sotomayor) like himself. If that is not a good reason to get out of the Jim Crow club I duno what is, and the funny thing is that the Republicans have that moron Steel fronting their hypocritical agenda. what a bunch of loosers. Good for you Mel good for you, lets see if Florida large Republican Hispanic contigent still votes for someone that will aim to minimize their voice, because from the Sotomayor vote its clear the Republicans will not support the same hispanics that vote them in office

    August 7, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. jdouglas

    Politicians only do things for one reason– money.

    August 7, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. republicans hate america

    hmmmm another cut and run move by the rush limbaugh party. they are making this a habit.

    August 7, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Lily

    There must be something you want in return for your huge favor to Christ. Guess we will find out. 2010...2012. Please don't let it be that other quiter/loser Sara.

    August 7, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Phoenix

    She is not the first Hispanic. Please check the history books on who was Hispanic even though he was also Jewish.

    August 7, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. republicans hate america

    Good luck Senator. Appoint someone that can at least slow down the Democrats from wrecking our economy as worse than they already have. Dem's have both houses and the Presidency and still can't make it happen – whats new and different.


    August 7, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Seth

    He got tired of holding his nose, the stench of anti-Americanism was just too much for him.

    August 7, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Barbara

    One more dead duck out of the way!

    August 7, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Stacey

    Good for you, Sen. Martinez. I wouldn't want to be part of the racist GOP either.

    August 7, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. John in Tampa

    How many know the benefits package for US Senators? My brother, a staunch Republican, tells me if you serve a term you get a lifetime retirement equal to your full Senator's salary–but he wasn't clear on if that starts immediately on leaving or only once you turn 65. Either way it is a shameless robbery taxpayers pay for, for just a few years of service.

    I also don't know how it works in this case. But if Crist offered me the job of completing Martinez's term I'd have to think it might be the best return on investing a few months one could ever possibly find. In fact it would be an even better return to step aside in 2010 and endorse Crist, as that way the same obscene retirement for even less time served.

    In the beginning, of course, serving in US govrnment was seen by many as an obligation, not an instant path to financial security. Alas, I feel naive just remembering that.

    August 7, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Charles W.

    The Republican party has imploded,lost one election after another,has no hope of getting back the White House or congress and cant get them back. Republicans are not believed by anyone anymore, and have lost all of their power,but not power ego. So they are bailing ship and swimming home.

    August 7, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Cyndy

    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


    August 7, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Steve, NJ

    People like Thermometer and others need to realize that this had nothing to do with Sotomayor. As much as you liberals love a soap opera, this had nothing to do with it. The gentleman announced in December of last year he was going to retire.

    August 7, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Stephanie

    CNN: Why would this be a top story when the jobless decline is buried deep into your blof with about 10% of the words of the Republican response?

    Doesn't fit in with your wacko, unscientific "report card" or the bs you let Michael Steele spout off yesterday? What about a comment that he was WRONG again about the economic picture.

    August 7, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. Michael

    Oh happy day! As a native Floridian who has seen Mel's politics firsthand here in Orlando, I say "good riddance." It is so nice to see another right-wing henchman of Dubya follow his idol into irrelevance. I hope it won't be long before all these Republi-cons (who spew bile in the name of the Lord while engaging in vile conduct themselves) go the way of the Do-Do. A bunch of hypocrites who cry about upholding the "sanctity" of marriage, while cheating on their wives with women and men!

    August 7, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. Rush Goebbels

    Poor Mel,maybe he got caught toewrestling with Limbaugh at the local airport mensroom.Rush gave up finding a woman that can stand him years ago.He goes to undiclosed locations in the world where "anything goes when the whistle blows".

    August 7, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. matt

    Scary to me.

    These guys get elected, get to know all the special interests in washington, then leave for the private sector so they can make more money.

    The one issue that every republican cares about- MONEY!

    I just think that they are by far the greediest party.

    I know everyone needs money to get elected but republicans seem to be like vampires.


    August 7, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. billp

    This can only mean 1 thing: Palin/Martinez in 2012!

    August 7, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Sharon

    Another Republican quitter. What is is about not finishing what you start with the Republicans these days? Palin, now Martinez. Why should I have faith in the word of any Republican when they tell me they want to serve the American people? Does that mean you will stay until it ceases to be fun? you don't get your way? Things must be pretty bad when a Republican Govenor and Senator have to quit their current gigs to make enough money to qualify to stay in the GOP!

    August 7, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Crist should appoint Rubio.

    August 7, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Zion

    For the people using socialism on this board, could you please define that word for me. Many liberals have suggested socialism to Pres. Obama, and he has not taken that course. What can I say. I have a capitalist president, with capitalist tendencies, and IVY league smarts. How sexy.

    August 7, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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