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. Mike Atkinson

    Why is Mr. Martinez "Pulling a Palin"?

    Maybe the Republican Party is getting way too weird for him.

    August 7, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. kishen c.rao

    good for is totally the nation, morally, ethically and no reasoning either....GOP thinks breaking pres. obama means stopping from "health care reform". this is how it's is going to fall apart...because it is not caring america any more, any longer...ok....this is truth nothing but truth...wake up americans...pass Health care reform....GOP is doing all criminal, turbulent protests...sad...sad for GOP!!!!

    August 7, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. lanray

    Now Gov. Crist can resign as govenor before naming himself to take Senator Martinez's place in Congress. Would save lots of campaign dollars and time.

    August 7, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. DG

    I don't know the reasoning behind this resignation, but it may be a pretty savvy move. It puts Crist in a tough spot, to appoint someone for a seat that he wants to run for. He has to be careful not to appoint someone that will give him a big challenge.

    August 7, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. MizLiz

    No wonder Brave Mel Martinez stood up to vote for Sonia Sotomayor. He's quitting, what can the republican party do to him? If he wasn't quitting and was up for reelection I rather doubt his vote would have remained the same.

    Mustn't offend The Base.

    August 7, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. Sheri

    Hopefully he is not ill. Scandal? Hate to say but I hope so, another nail in the Republican coffin!

    August 7, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. DaveM

    Figures that he would wait until after he voted for Sotomayor before resigning.

    August 7, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. hm,florida

    another pebble in the crumbling pile of dust being left by the GOP and the republican party.

    it's also nice to know that not only our governor of florida has basically left his post and now martinez will abandon his state. YEP, THE GOOD OLE BOYS OF THE G O P.

    what a joke they have become.

    August 7, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Liberal4Obama

    Arlen Specter, the former and ONLYJewish republican senator switched partied from Republican to Democrat, now the ONLY hispanic Senator, a HUGE supporter of Sonya Sotomayor is leaving his party... looks to me like the republican party should put a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner in their building. They now truly are the WHITES ONLY party, not that is good for America but I guess thats how they have always seen themselves.

    August 7, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  10. Joe in Austin

    After the town-hall "shoutdown" unamerican behavior of the republicans, I can only say good riddance.

    August 7, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Lolis

    Poor Mel Martinez couldn't deal with how corrupt his party has become. So few votes for one of the most qualified Supreme Court nominees in a generation because she is a Latina. I don't blame him for getting out of Crazy Town.

    August 7, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. The black spider

    Of course he has to resign because he is discussed with the Republican's bigotery and hate toward Non-whites.
    That's another prove that the GOP is doomed. They will never get to the white house ever again.
    I hope Mel Martinez changed his party affiliation to Democrat.
    I hape charlie Crist does the same thing too because he is the Only Republican that I like.

    August 7, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. def

    When a Senator suddenly announces that he is resigning, you can bet there's news of a bad diagnosis or an indictment on the way.

    August 7, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. Mike Deming

    Well he finally is have a good week, resigning and voting for a court nominee!

    August 7, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  15. lenny

    O, come on, do u really think Gov.Crist is going to pick someone who he has to face off with...

    August 7, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Libertyman13

    Anybody know if Florida law permits him to appoint himself?

    August 7, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  17. Obamapublican

    This is unfortunate to see. As a Republican who is thrilled with the new administration's effort and commitment to make positive change in our country and our culture, and who eschews the divisive vitriolic and oftentimes mean-spirited pure political gamemanship I've seen envelop the Republican party and its seemingly ever-increasing intolerant constituency, Mel Martiniez seemed to me an even-tempered, thoughtful politician who truly sought to do right by his constituents without resorting to overt partisanship. When he first was elected, he gave me hope that the Republican Party still included and made room for moderate thinkers. That hope has been steadily waning, and his departure from the scene and the prospect of replacing him with a more conservative "real republican" dims that hope even more. I feel there really is no longer any tolerance in the GOP for anyone who thinks outside of the FoxNews/Limbaugh/Beck mindset (see, e.g., Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, et al.) . In any event, I am sad to see him go, and I wish Mel and his family the very best in the next chapter of his life of service to the community.

    August 7, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. IslandGyal

    Crist should appoint himself. I think Crist is the "best" hypocrite a.k.a. republican, as he sometimes allows common sense and integrity to determine his choices.

    August 7, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. Same Old Story

    A bit of a dilema for Crist. Whomever he appoints to fill the slot in the meantime will get name recognition and a bit of experience making it a bit harder for Charlie to win the election.

    August 7, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. TMC

    He's doing what John Ensign and Mark Sandford should of done.

    August 7, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  21. Suzanne

    Why is Martinez leaving early instead of waiting until the next election? Is he leaving before a scandal hits or just has better things to do than serve out his elected term?

    August 7, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. martraco

    A wise Latino man saw the handwriting on the wall.

    August 7, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Bryan, BX

    Complete Sellout. Good Riddance.

    August 7, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. KDC

    Is the opening that Jeb Bush has been looking for?

    August 7, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. LacrosseMom

    Happy to hear that a fellow Cuban-American voted to confirm Judge Sotomayor!

    Gracias, Mel! God bless you & your family, in your retirement!

    Its a relief to know that ALL GOPers are not.......... haters!

    August 7, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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