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. nolapearl

    To John in Tampa – this is from the senate website:

    Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension
    at age 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible
    for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after
    completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of
    service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting
    amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final

    August 7, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. concerned citizen

    Hispanic politicians are finally getting the message they are not wanted in the RNC (Racists Nazi Conservative) party.

    August 7, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Zero.

    He's made his Bundle. Time to go...

    August 7, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. The Smart One

    You can tell a lot about an organization by its followers...CNN attracts mindless, hate-filled democrats. You know what they say...birds of a feather...

    August 7, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Nate Kimbleton

    There seems to be a long line of people posting here that are smoking crack. First of all, do ANY of you LIVE in Florida? "Stench of the GOP", "Republican Party imploding". Are you reading the polls? President Obama's approval ratings have dropped from 70% to 53% in a month! BOTH Democratic candidates for Governor THIS year( Deeds in VA and Corzine in NJ) are trailing by double digits. In states OBAMA carried! In Florida, Christ leads Kendrick Meek by 25% in the race to replace Martinez. He can appoint Donald Duck for a year, it doesnt matter, he is going to have that seat in January 2011 regardless! You Democrats that talk about the dead GOP should get a hold of your OWN party first!! You cant even pass a health care bill with a Democratic dominated House and 60 US Senators!! When protestors showed up to at Town Halls regarding the War in Iraq that was freedom of speech. When the GOP Convention was interupted by screaming protestors from Code Pink that was "awesome". Hows your freedom of speech working now that your Congressional Delegation is having to slip out the window from Health Care town hall meetings? We can be passionate too. How does that go...."YES WE CAN"...

    August 7, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Marcy

    Maybe he is disgusted with our country and our people who are letting a bunch of republican radicals with narcistic egos and sore losers lead them to divide our country and make us like one of the third world countries. I pray it will stop before someone gets hurt. They use lies, half truths to get decent people to act this way. Instead of chanting just say no to health care or whatever the subject is, just say no to these people who make a fortune riding on the backs of Americans who believe them

    August 7, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. I'll make em famous

    an open door for J. BUSH ??

    August 7, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Ron Hull

    Sen. Martinez never seemed like a true conservative Republican, and and he never really liked life in D.C.; he prefers living in Florida to Washington. As Justice Souter said, great job but horrible city to live in; if one is smart and wealthy enough to become a senator why the heck live in D.C. in this day and age Ron H

    August 7, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. Mimi

    As a Republican Moderate woman who could not support Sarah Palin for any office because she is not well-read, does not reflect analytical thoughtfulness,& intellect of a person who formally or informally studies & remembers history,& other core subjects of classical education/learning, I hope the Media will now stop abusing her & her family to gain mileage in ratings games.Too many male & female elected politicians home & in DC lack that intellectual skills & learning-male & female. Let all the Media comics & pundits play with Menendez as the Macho Male Senator who has some less-than- honorable reason for resigning -without mentioning Sarah Palin. Objectively,you all abused her regularly, except for the O'Reilly Playboy Cable & that's another sad story about the Media. Betcha' you don't print this comment from a woman-not a fan- in defense of Palin;one who just called FOX by its transparent News/Entertainment TV Business Plan.

    August 7, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. barnhardt in NC

    I wonder if there's a "wide stance" or an unflattering mistress story about to break.

    August 7, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Chris from NC

    Man, I like this guy!!!! First, he bucks all but eight other Republicans to vote for Sotomayor. Then, he very subtley tells the GOP where to shove his Senate seat.

    August 7, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Nate Kimbleton

    Spelling typo's in previous post:

    Christ should be Crist

    up to at Town Halls regarding the War in Iraq should be: show up AT Town Halls regarding the War in Iraq 🙂

    August 7, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Kenn

    What a bunch of partisan losers! Oh, your party is corrupt, my party is just altruistic dedicated servants to the people. What a bunch of puppets! There is no difference. When the Repugs were in power, they were robbing us blind and taking away our Constitutional rights. Like all the leftist losers here, they proudly claimed to have won permanent rights to the cookie jar.

    But the Dems are no better. Now they run with their hands in the cookie jar, blinded by power and completely out of touch. Now they will rob us blind while raping our rights.

    There is no difference. They love partisan fervor, because it prevents critical thought. Whether "the right" or "the left" run the show, the end result for us is always the same.

    As proof of this, why do you think it was that Repub Presidents were "surprised" by the leftists they put on the Supreme Court? and why did Obama keep the Bush strategy in Iraq, along with all the Bush military leadership, after taking office? Why? Because they are all the same, all working for the same bosses and working towards the same goals.

    I can't stand partisan puppets.

    August 7, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. p

    I hope it has nothing to do with messing with interns, but nothing would surprise me.

    August 7, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Obamapublican

    Says "PARKER": Looks like a lot of "Republicans" that hate Republicans, love socialism and radical libralism are contributing to the thread. Hillarious. What a bunch of fools as they do their job as democrats – – that is lie about things right to our faces.

    Take it from this registered Republican, your comment is a perfect example of the intolerant, self-centered vitriolic "us-or-them" political acrimony that turned me into an obamapublican and makes me want to take that republican i.d. card out of my wallet. I support this president (not the democratic party) because of his ideals, and his commitment to doing what is in this country's long-term collective best interests. As an upper middle class well-educated lawyer facing increased taxes under some of Obama's proposals, I recognize that it might be time for me to pay this country back for all the wealth I've reaped from the advantageous opportunities its given this white male, and that perhaps, as a citizen of a community, I should participate in fulfilling my moral obligation to helping those around me who have less. You can, mis-label new ideas "socialist" or "radical" all you care to. To me, ideas that are logical, practical and well-reasoned (like just about everything I've heard from this thoughtful president) are worth considering and trying. You simply sound like someone (like so many in the GOP I feel have abandoned thoughtful logical and reasoned analysis of issues) who is so caught-up in the left-versus-right fight, that you've lost sight of your ability to accept the fact that anyone else might be open to critique the policies or pronouncements of their own party, and that if they don't agree with the GOP-line, they are traitors undeservig of party membership. This Becksonian Limbaughistic approach is as intolerant as some of the divisive, hateful and race-tinged speech we keep seeing promulgated by FoxNews and the like. Open you mind, open your heart, and feel what it means to be a citizen of the american community again–you'll feel better aboout yourself and the opinion and differing perspectives of others, I assure you.

    August 7, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Christian

    Liberals are so uninformed and hysterical it never ceases to amaze me. I now resort to reading the commentary only for laughs.
    Where do you people come from? haha.

    August 7, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. bgshutr

    most of these comments are so nasty it is sick ! This is part of the problem with the new regime in washington its ok to have an opinion if it its theirs but if it is opposed to the left, it is "fishy" or "mob mentality" or better yet like MRS Clinton used to say "the right wing conspricy". it is always interesting ...I love how the first amendmant only works one way .... better yet how the Republicans are owned by the big corperations ??? Tell that to George Soros who owns the THE DNC and all the minions running around doing his bidding including Obama

    August 7, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Al, KS

    Interesting. Kind of puts Crist in a jam. He can't appoint himself, and he can't appoint someone who might challenge him. If he appoints a real wing-nut, he will loose the independents, but a moderate and he loses the wing-nuts. Can't wait to see how he handles this one...quid pro quo anyone?

    August 7, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Mary Lou Hamm

    he is a quitter a la' Palin, maybe more GOPers will quit, they commit to something and then abandon their jobs

    August 7, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Charles W. August 7th, 2009 12:57 pm ET SAID:

    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.

    If thats true welcome to SOCIALISM. Where the government will tell you haw to eat, live, how much money people can make and god knows what else. THANKS ALOT.

    Looks like the U.S. just became communist!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 7, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. Say Hey

    What is with all these GOP'ers who think it's just fine and dandy to quit something if you're not having a good enough time? Sure, the hatred and race-baiting of his own party must have been terribly hard for Martinez to swallow, but he chose to be there and, to say the least, he should stick it out. I guess this is The New Integrity, Sarah Palin Style: If you harp on family values and abstinence-only education, and then discover that a close family member has betrayed those, then redefine what "family values" really mean. And if you no longer have any interest in doing the job you were elected to do, quit on a whim and thank the troops (who CAN'T quit, even if they want to) and God for allowing you to do so.

    August 7, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. Fredrick

    This is a great tactic of the GOP, just quit and let the Dems have 100% control. As the old saying goes, give a retard enough rope and he'll hang himself. The GOP can just sit back and watch the Dems commit political suicide.

    August 7, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. vic nashville , Tn

    Don’t quit the senate seat Please Quit the party

    August 7, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  24. Steph

    Please – if this had anything to do with a disagreement with the republican party – he'd just switch parties and keep getting the paycheck.

    August 7, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. Jon

    "Republicans are not believed by anyone anymore, and have lost all of their power,"

    Great. So that means that if Obama's heath care plan isn't gaining traction it's because of basic and obvious weaknesses in the plan and Republicans are totally blameless for his inability to get his health care plan through with his crushing legislative majority and filibuster-proof Senate majority.

    August 7, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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