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. Fred NJ

    wow...there is a lot of hatred in the democratic party. Why are you people so angry. I see nothing but nasty and idiotic statements coming from the left. Is that all your capable of? Must be the quality union run education provided by the government, huh?

    I hope the gentlemen enjoys his retirement. God Bless.

    August 7, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. Lee

    I think he left early cause he was going to get some flak for voting for Sotomayor from people in his own party. I think there is something more going on with the Republician party. They are doing everything to be the party of "NO" and this party claims they know what the people wants, but do they? I am a register republician and I have to say, this is not the party I join several years ago.

    August 7, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. S Callahan

    I can't stop laughing ..that was funny Howard! (or was that CNN's lol lol

    August 7, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. stephen Pagnozzi

    Just another example of how dysfunctional the Republican Party is.

    I'm sure, partly it was out of frustration and the sad part of it , is that

    it was from a moderate part of the party. Are the republicans trying to commit political suicide? I never in my 60 odd years of life have seen such mass stupidity from either party until, what, about 4 or 6 years ago until now.

    August 7, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Rob from Texas

    There is yet another Senate seat we can swoop up...let's go for 70.

    August 7, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Samuel B.

    Even though I'm a Democrat, I thought Senator Martinez was a very capable and fair-minded legislator who performed the duties of his office well. I am somewhat disappointed to see him leave before the end of his term but if that's his personal choice, so be it.

    As for his replacement, I personally would have no problem with Governor Christ appointing himself to the seat, and even though he probably won't he probably should. Christ may be a Republican, but he has shown himself to be fair, pragmatic, and definitely not an extremist. That's what puts him at odds with Rush Limbaugh and many of the other hard right bozos that give the GOP such a bad name. Christ appointing himself to the seat could actually start a charge by GOP moderates to take back their party from the extremists.

    August 7, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. mike

    I wish duhbama would quit.

    August 7, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Moderate

    I'm sitting here reading these comments and I can't get over how many "race-neutral" Democrats are being so racist. And if you think you aren't look at your posts. The GOP opposition to Sotomayer had nothing to do with her being was about her track record. They saw from her testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee that what she says is often disconnected from what she actually does. Perhaps some people on the Democrat side should rethink the meaning of the motto, "Actions speak louder than words." But, all you anti-GOPs on here think it was all about her being Hispanic...look up the definition of racism. It's you, not them that are being racist in this case by making out the vote to be all about race. If America wants to be a truly racisim-free society, then every time something negative happens to a minority, people need to look beyond the race of the individual and analyze the facts. Too many of these posts show nothing be emotion and very little consideration for facts. The fact that some of you are even allowed to vote makes my head spin. Let's not forget, WE THE PEOPLE voted all the corrupt politicians in to office (and if you didn't vote at all, shame on you for complaining, shut up and color).

    August 7, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. na

    @ Rob
    It is not the mandated roll of the justices of the supreme court to be the "voice" of anyone except the US constitution.

    I learned that from listening to Justice Sotomayor.

    August 7, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Denna

    Maybe he could not stomach being an Rethug anymore. Good bye and good riddance.

    August 7, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. LAW

    OK, I know that Q is before R in the alphabet, so I guess it's Quitter and then Republican... keeping promises, keeping your word to those who worked for you and elected you – that doesn't seem to mean anything any more. Sad.

    August 7, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. @ Dave

    You said, "Hopefully the Repubs can get somebody in there to fight against Obama and Team Evil.

    The Obamas and Pelosis of the world have the advantage of not having a soul or moral conscience. Leftist scum are like that.

    Still, decency will triumph in the end. Evil men like Obama will eventually be defeated. The fight against tyranny is always difficult, but always noble."

    NO SOLUTIONS! Just get in there and say, "NO"!
    Stop spouting rightwing rhetoric and start thinking for yourself..
    Look at leading indicators and educate yourself, or.... just keep posting stupid ridiculous statements that make you look like a complete IDIOT!
    Where were you when the real Evil and Tyranny was taking place over the past administration?
    Start being constructive or get the hell out of the way!

    August 7, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Dem

    Good riddance. Take the cask and get out and bring in someone who actually will defend the constitution, not play lap dog to a Marxist President. Thankfully we are loosing another democrat in republican clothing. Let the rest of them leave as well.

    August 7, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. Kelly's Poll-of-the-day

    The Poll

    Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) is quitting because of.....

    (vote for as many as apply)

    A) ...a boring Vitter-esque story of having to pay for hetero sex because your wife intimidates you and you hate her (and you love the feel of adult Pampers on your butt!)

    B) ...a slightly more juicy Foley-type tale of lust for young boys’ bottoms and modern technology

    C) ...a weepy story of a rich, cold wife that despises you and a hot Latina mistress that likes to pose topless in the firelight

    D) ...a mavericky “F**k U!” tweet to the country – (“I’m looking out for number 1, ya betcha”;) wink !)

    E) ...a creepy, pseudo-Christian “I’m being forced away from my true love by a shadowy, quasi-religious organization deeply entrenched in the US government and hell-bent on taking over the country!”...Sure, she was my friend's wife...and my folks paid her to keep her mouth shut...but it's not my fault!

    F) ...a Limbaugh-like dependence on Viagra and Oxycontin because his life sucks and he must be in an altered state at all times to keep the sham up

    G) O’Reilly-ish perv-fest of loofahs and falafel (call me Daddy and put your hair in pigtails)

    H) ...a longing to spend more time with his family and friends (Hey, I gotta be fair to the man, family is always a good reason to be a quitter)

    August 7, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Eugene, Tampa

    Cyndy...Late breaking news – the Democrats control the House, Senate and BTW Obama is a Dem too. Who is left to fight? Oh, they'll fight between themselves and then blame someone else. I'm sure Queen Pelosi will love that as she continues to plan Obama's demise.

    Like they say, the republicans are a party of bad ideas while the dems are a party of no ideas.

    Or if you like...

    the Democrats take the Republican bad ideas and just make them worse.

    August 7, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Justin

    Perhaps Martinez is the only Hispanic Republican in the Senate because . . . it makes NO SENSE for ANY Hispanic to be a republican.
    Looking at the past and present the GOP is not for the regualar Joe.
    Regardless of any propaganda released this group is about helping themselves. Say what you want but look at the records.

    August 7, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  17. Sandy in Boston

    There was a section on one of CNN's pages near the bottom titled "Top News". This was the first headline in that section:

    "Twitter blackout left users feeling 'naked'"

    The headline was accompanied by some nerdy looking dude with thick glasses and a worried expression.

    I'm not making this up.

    August 7, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Its a political genius plan

    The GOP Senator quitting his position is a planned political move. They want to appoint someone to the seat, who would have gathered enough name recognition and will be covered by the media as the sitting Senator and represented in the Congress so that the seat can remain Republican in 2010 by all means.

    Its always easier for an incumbent to win re-election than a new face running for the position. I am sure this GOP Senator is getting some perks for this huge loyalty to the party's platform.

    August 7, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. REG in AZ

    Sometimes I feel like I just have too much time on my hands (retired with limited outside interests) and then that I get too mental about the one continually controversial news item, politics. But then I review the long litany of lies told over the last eight years to disguise and rationalize Bush-Cheney’s irresponsible focus on Special Interests and a select few, their arrogant and cocky self-indulgence and their unconscionable total lack of any concern for the majority, and I know my emotion is well justified, being further proven by the drastic problems that have resulted. There is a group of very influential, very wealthy and very powerful people who are committed to protecting and furthering their interests, however they can and most apparently through controlling (owning) politics. The real problem is that they have no conscience, no concern for anyone or anything other than their agenda. They are especially noticeable as being currently greatly interwoven into the Republican Party, as was clearly demonstrated by the Bush-Cheney era and as continues now with the Republicans’ at-any-cost obstructionist efforts. Any doubt can be quickly dispelled by just imagining another eight years with the likes of Bush-Cheney. No, my concern is very understandable as it is easily seen that they will stop at nothing, not at any expense, not withholding any manipulation, intimidation or deception, and the costs are just so very high.

    August 7, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Robert Leigh

    Another good Republican.

    August 7, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. jeff

    ICEBERG RIGHT AHEAD! The GOP is the Titanic and the iceberg they hit over a year ago has left them a sinking hulk of doom. The smart ones like Martinez and Hutchinson are grabbing a life boat and getting the hell off while they still have a chance of at least getting a job at Wal Mart. The others are gathered around Glen (Coke head) Beck and Rush (drug addict draft dodger) Limbaugh listening to Nearer my God to thee while they throw every racist, bigoted stone at President Obama they can. 2010 will be a bloodbath for the GOP the recession will be over, the unemployment rate will be lower and health care will be passed. The GOP led by uncle Tom Steele are scared white racist people who see there doom coming as the water laps at their shoes, do they stay with the vessel in hopes Rush can use his fat but to clog the hole or do they drown like rats in Glen Beck's whirpool addict mind of delusion? This is better viewing than American Idol or So you think you can dance. I think there should be a reality show on the demise of the GOP "So you think you have a political future"?

    August 7, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. armstrongtonbilly9

    Mel Matinez was a very unpopular senator, and was waiting to be able to vote for Sotomayor before he left office.

    August 7, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Barry


    You want Democrats to fight back? Democrats are now the status quo. You are not going to have nearly as much success mobilizing grass roots movements when you hold every branch of government. You are now the target, and every wrong move will be criticized and amplified. If Democrats cant get a health care reform bill passed when they completely control government, then it may not be the GOP, it might be the bill. The GOP has issued an alternative health care reform bill, but it is a more effective to oppose Obama's health care reform rather than say,....uh we want reform too, but just not in the way that Obama wants it.

    The irony in this is that it almost reminds me of when George W. Bush tried to reform the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. While the reform is and was badly needed, Democrats demonized the reform and it eventually died. In that case, the Democrats did not have an alternative plan, they just argued that it didnt need to be fixed. Of course we can now say that we should be glad the specific reforms recommended by Bush didnt get passed with the way the stock market crashed. The end state was that Bush expended incredible political capital to get the agenda approved, and he eventually became a lame duck.

    August 7, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  24. Bill NC

    Just waiting for the other shoe to drop...there is more to this than meets the eye. Alot of "quitters' in the GOP lately.

    August 7, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Asher

    Do I sense a posibility of a Democratic 2/3 true super-majority (67 votes). This will give them power to change any rule in the Senate. Such as change cloture to 1/2 (50 votes) instead of 3/5 (60 votes)

    August 7, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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