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. Angie


    If you are referring to Justice Cardozo, you'd be hard pressed to find any definitive proof that he is of Latin decent. According to Harvard professor and Cardozo biographer Andrew L. Kaufman said Cardozo's ancestors came to the American colonies in the 1700s from England and Holland, but no one has ever firmly established that the family's roots were, in fact, in Portugal. And that's coming from a Cardozo biographer. But...I'm sure you'd know best, right? Moving on...we know DEFINITIVELY Justice Sotomayor is of Latin decent, specifically Puerto Rican. No can dispute nor deny that. Tyvm.

    August 7, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. Lance Cordill

    My liberal friend Cindy here needs to seriusly cut down on her pharmaceutical ingestion! If any party has played by some rule of civility it has been the Republican Party. Frankly, that is part of their problem both nationally and locally here in Indiana. In politics, it doesn't pay to be honest, have integrity or keep promises made during campaigns...let alone asking our elected officals to hold themselves to the same rules which the general public is cohersed into abiding by. Senator Martinez' decision to resign at this time was made long ago. The timing is rather dubious. So, is his vote for Justice Sotomeyer. It truly is a shame that a poitician will vote for someone strictly on the basis of their ethnicity and not on principle. that Justice Sotomeyer is a so called "historic" appointment ignores the fact that she is NOT the first Hispanic to have ever been considered by a sitting President to a a Supreme Court justice (i.e, at least Alberto Gonzoles and Emilio Garza under Bush 43) or that she is a female (i.e, at least Harriet Meyers under Bush 43). True, Justice Sotomeyer is both Hispanic and female. But, in and of themselves that is not the story behind her appointment. Justice Sotomeyer was the "right" Hispanic and female for the time being. Justice Sotomeyer's apponitment is no accident. Neither is Sen. Martinez' resignation. It becomes clearer and clearer that all that happens in Washington is carefully choreographed theater. And we Americans are the gullible all too willing compliant members of the paying audience.

    August 7, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. sdsailor

    As a Florida resident this ticks me off. First I didn't vote for Martinez who was just a yes man for GW but now after one term he wants to retire and collect his outrageous retirement as a Senator. This just stinks one term and full salary for life and fantastic health care. This guy is a bum

    August 7, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. Georgia

    Why wasn't this headline of – a Republican Senators Resignation actually about Ensign?????

    That hypocritical Holy Roller (along with all of the other "C Streeter's) needs to be the one to RESIGN!!!!

    Its horrible that these people USE Christianity as a front for what they are doing to our society!!!!

    August 7, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  5. mg

    Is Lawton Chiles still around?

    August 7, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Ed H

    Republicans are racist because they voted against Sotomayor yet thay have a black man as the head of their party. Republicans have the only Hispanic Senator yet they are against Hispanics. Republicans appointed the first black to be Secretary of State yet they are racist.

    When Republicans vote against Sotomayor because of her activist approach to the bench and her stated intent to let a party's economic standing or race influence her decision, Republicans are racist. When Democrats call Condoleeza Rice all sorts of names and draw racist caricatures of her in the newspapers, it is expressing an opinion and not racist.

    I just will never understand liberals. They want the freedoms our country was founded on, but only for those that think like them.

    When most of us criticize Obama, it has nothing to do with his color. It is because we beliv he was ill-prepared to be President, believes big government is always the answer and lies like no one I've ever seen.

    A very large part of the Republican party wanted to see JC Watts continue his career and run for President when he was ready. I would actively support him in a minute. Why? Becaue he is an energizing and articulate man that holds most of the same beliefs and values that I do.

    I still hope against hope for the day when if you disagree with a minority, it doesn't makeyou a racist. I like almost all Republicans and independents have never disagreed wth a person because of their race, it's always been because of th actions or opinions.

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

    Ye Gods. My email is filled up with Kool-aid drinkers. I didn't realize this was CNN. I'll have to be more careful with my clicks.

    Guys, guys, just send it your ACORN thugs and you can elect anyone you like.

    August 7, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. bco

    What the hell? Are these people pretending that they don't know that the offices that the ran for go for a fixed term... nicely timed to keep the office filled until the next election?

    Its kind of like Nixon with Watergate, or Bush with Plame- there are only two explanations here- Stupid or Liar.

    August 7, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. sdsailor

    " August 7th, 2009 12:22 pm ET

    After most of his colleagues voted No on Sotomayer he decided he did NOT want to spend anymore time with the Racist Republicans in their caucus.

    That vote got him really bent out of shape."

    Wrong he stated he was not going to seek a second term months ago, he just is lazy and decided to quit early, he must of checked to see if he still got his benefits and said goodbye to working for the public to support him now he can relax and still get his dough

    August 7, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. kd

    What's with all these Republicans quitting before their term is up? When you run for office, spend all that donated money and promise to stay the full term, then STAY THE FULL TERM!.

    Palin quit so fast it'll be a job to remember she was ever governor. Wonder if she would have quit the VP slot if she and McCain had been elected.

    August 7, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Leo Pizarro

    Great Senator Martinez, let the Democrats work!!!!

    August 7, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  12. Shingo

    My guess is he either is being pushed out by others in the GOP or he is planning on running for Gov in Florida. The "spending more time with my family" is the known euphemism for I can't say why I'm really leaving.

    August 7, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. chuck

    Hello Senator Charlie Crist, the newly appointed Senator from Florida will be filling the rest of Senator Martinez term.

    Hello Lt. Governor (what's his name) who will replace Governor/Sanator Charlie Crist for the rest of his term.

    Now, the big question.......why did Senator Martinez decide to resign effctive today rather than complete the rest of his term? Is it because he no longer wanted anything to do with his other Republican colleagues in the Senate. If so, then, he should have done what Senator Specter did earlier this year. SWITCH PARTIES.

    August 7, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. DS

    Is this a fashion statement a la Palin: Quitting is the New Black!

    August 7, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. IndependentfromTexas

    there is no reason for him to be in GOP. It is a disgrace given the hate fuming out of right-wing nutcases ably supported by silent GOP leadership. Shame!

    August 7, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Sara

    To John in Tampa:

    A cursory search on the internet can show that your relative's claims are simply false. With the internet at your fingertips, wouldn't it be easier to check the veracity of his claims, instead of just gullibly repeating them?

    August 7, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Issano

    Mel Martinez is a good guy. He would have preferred to be a Democrat.
    The Republican party is to EXTREME/RADICAL for him. He will resurface with a Democratic our Hispanic society will love him for it.

    August 7, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. camaret r

    may be he got tired of hanging out with all those old white southern redneck dixecras ?

    August 7, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  19. Emmanuel Goldstein


    Fighting is right. I have long theorized that when the economy goes south, we will fight each other for pieces of the economic pie. This fight will go from a metaphorical one to a real one in due course, and we are already seeing that with cries by liberals about supposed thuggish tactics at town hall meetings (though video is emerging that shows who the thugs are, and they appear to be union thugs, whose professionalism at this is legendary).

    Look next for new gun control initiatives as the liberals try to make sure that the war now being fought with ballots cannot be won with bullets; liberals won't be able to control flyover country and the exburban areas otherwise. Also look for new currency controls as the Dems try to prevent domestic wealth from leaving the country.

    August 7, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. Marc of California

    I am a liberal Democrat but when I learned that Sen. Mel Martinez was going to head the RNC after the 2006 election I was enthusiastic because he might help the GOP lighten up and be more inclusive. Boy was I wrong.

    When he left the RNC post I blamed the GOP for not listening to him. When I learned he was not going to run for reelection next year I still blamed the GOP for driving trailblazers like Martinez out. Now that he is quitting the Senate altogether I am now blaiming him for being a coward.

    Sen. Martinez, you knew what you were getting into when you decided to be a shining light during the GOP's darkest days. You were elected to serve in the public interest until your term was complete. This resignation shows that you never cared about the wishes of the people of Florida or the office that you were elected to. I hope whoever replaces you after 2010, Democrat or Republican, has enough sense to stay put even when things are sour and does not know the meaing of the words "I Quit".

    August 7, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  21. ds

    Ha! This is why Lou Holtz said he wouldn't run for Congress! He wanted the Senate seat!

    August 7, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Joe the Troll

    "The gentleman announced in December of last year he was going to retire."

    He didn't say that he wouldn't bother to complete the term he was elected to.

    August 7, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. chuck

    hHey, Steve of NJ.......

    At the very least, he should have finished his term.

    August 7, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. Emmanuel Goldstein

    Didn't Martinez talk about stepping down (or not running for reelection, I forget which exactly) years ago, and stayed on after he was asked to?

    August 7, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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