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. Tony in Maine

    I smell a very dead rat.

    Crist appoints himself becoming the incumbent with all the priviliges (franked mail) and advantages (constant media exposure as a senator) of an incumbent.

    August 7, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  2. RP

    Gees, another one following in Sara's footsteps. You republicans are going to have a huge image problem (oops, a BIGGER image problem) when election time comes along. How in the world will you fight off the words QUITTER? What a mess. This should be very interesting.

    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Dennis Junior

    That is sad, that Mel Martinez is going to resigned from Congress....


    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. XGOP

    Another one bites the dust. But the crafty GOP will find a way to keep that seat. Dems better be prepared to play hardball to pick up this seat. Why isnt there any info on WHY this guy is resigning? Poor CNN reporting...

    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. AndyB

    Now if only the rest of the partry of obstruction and corruption would step aside the country would be a better place.

    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Ted in Fort Lauderdale

    That puts Crist in an interesting position. He was expecting to run against an open seat. Now he has to appoint either someone who can (will?) run against him as the incumbent in that seat, with at least some of the advantages an incumbent has, or someone who commits to Crist in advance no to run for re-election (and Crist has to have faith in that commitment). This could be a sign that Martinez is not supporting Crist and is trying to cause him problems...

    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  7. Vicbadboy

    Hmmmmmm....I wonder what is Gov Crist going to do.....I guess Senator Crist will come sooner than expected.

    Got to love the way this country works sometimes....

    August 7, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Ric Jos

    Will Crist appoint himself to fill out the term?

    August 7, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. Rob Johnson

    Charlie Crist has a lot more in common with Obama that he does with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, so even if the Republicans "keep" this seat, it will be held by a much more liberal person.

    Even with Obama's dropping poll numbers and the trouble he is facing with the health care bill, he is likely to have MORE support in the Senate after 2010, not less.

    August 7, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Hamlet Canosa

    I wonder whether stepping away from his seat will allow Martinez sufficient political flexibility to speak, perhaps more openly, of his party's position on immigration, Sotomayor's vetting, and relentless attacks on an administration that has done a great deal for the people of Florida.

    Perhaps a "Powell-like" moment of refreshing objectivity and candor lies ahead. We'll see.

    August 7, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Pat in Omaha

    How convenient!
    What a nice way to keep the seat on the "right" side!!!

    August 7, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Will

    And he was one of the few Republicans to vote for Sotomayor.

    I love the Republican senators who are not up for reelection, are the ones that feel they can do the right thing and vote for Sotomayor.

    Must feel good being liberated from the cult party of Rush Limbaugh.

    August 7, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Joe

    You know it's said you have this right wing conservative part of the GOP just killing the moderate Republicans. We are supposed to be a nation of democracy and yet we have a faction of a party that is playing my way or the highway, just sad.

    August 7, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Rich

    Will Crist appoint himself so he can run as an incumbent against a hard right candidate in the 2010 GOP Primary? I say yes.

    August 7, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Carl

    So is Martinez expecting Crist to appoint himself or is Crist expected to "Franken" the seat until the 2010 election.

    Remember, he's the co-chair of Crist's campaign.

    Makes no good's the source on the resignation????

    August 7, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Chris

    Conflict of interest? Never stopped politicians before . . .

    August 7, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  17. InsanityRules

    Priceless !

    I wonder who he was screwing around with? More C-Street house shenanigans?

    Like rats off a sinking ship – Ensign should be next!

    August 7, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. JasonTN

    Another quitter!!!! Palin/Martinez 2012-2014.5 Great conservative values.

    August 7, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. Greg in Miami


    August 7, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. TJStepp

    Maybe a positive pattern is emerging here. Republicans resigning office. I was hoping Palin resigned to be full time involved in the b irther movement. THAT would be entertaining. But, Martinez has never had that "crazy quality" about him.

    August 7, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  21. T'SAH from Virginia

    The PARTY of NO comes tumbling DOWN!!

    August 7, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. carlos only smarter

    let crist appoint himself and in the general election will be replaced by our democratic candidate

    August 7, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. Eric

    I sure hope that Charlie does not appoint himself. He has been a complete failure as our Gov.

    August 7, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
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