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. JL in Florida

    I think I hear skeletons scratching from the inside of a closet door...

    August 7, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. Clare Knight

    "tenuous"? and what does Martinez's retirement has to do with it? Who writes this stuff? Also isn't Hutchison stepping down early as well to run for Governor of Texas?

    August 7, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  3. Dee

    Don't let the door hit you on the way out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 7, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Lou Dyer Jones

    Rats deserting a sinking ship

    August 7, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. I Can See Argentina from my Front Porch

    Even though I am not a Republican, I am still sorry to see Martinez resign. He is a great example of what a Republican should be, and someone that could have worked to bridge the gap between the 2 parties. But I am sure that this man will be taking a lot of heat from his party leaders for voting for Sotomayor, so it is wise that he step down. Hopefully he can further his career in other ways, and consider being an INDEPENDENT.

    August 7, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Greg

    I fear Governor Crist will name himself to succeed Martinez, replacing one RINO with another.

    August 7, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. mikal previl

    I need democrat to have all this seat republican going left

    August 7, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. El Pinche

    Amazing...his quittin speech made sense.

    August 7, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    This is a very clever move. Crist will appoint himself and run as an imcumbent. That's the bottomline.

    August 7, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Prabhu

    Republican party has become "Quitter Party"..

    August 7, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Hersey Kisses

    See Ya!!!

    August 7, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Res Ipsa Loquitor

    Would Crist appoint himself? Can he appoint himself? If he appoints someone else does that ruin his plans to run in 2010 for the seat?

    August 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Steve from Somerset

    I was hoping he would explain why he was "pullng a Palin" and resigning before his term was up.

    August 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. RRR

    Another Republican quits before their term is up? How is this 'Country First'? But at least Martinez had the guts to vote for Sotermayor, and is not being run out of office by the NRA!

    Looks like Gov. Crist has a dilemna, if he appoints a Republican to the vacant senatorial seat, he may have to run against that same Republican in the primaries for the next election! Or, perhaps Christ should also quit, and have the Lt. Governor appoint HIM to the vacant senate seat. Ah...the musical chairs of politics.

    August 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. ender

    I wonder if Crist can seat himself? Wouldn't that be something?

    August 7, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. FD

    I hope Crist will appoint himself. We need him in Washington.

    August 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. kumutso

    i am happy he is stepping down because he has seen it himself that republicans are dividers not uniters they dont like the hispanic community they just want a party of white people its sad because they say they are christians and what a christrians who does love gods children so i am happy he is living the party of no and the party of mean people i mean common people the way the republicans treated sotomayor its just sad how the party leaders showed that they were racial So good for MENDEZ

    August 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Blue Bartender

    This will leave the Republican party a Crist appointed, semi-incumbent Senatorial candidate in 2010 to run against a Democratic challenger. I'm sure they will also like to see Katherine Harris discouraged and out of the primary.

    August 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Robert

    Something strange is going on!(?)

    August 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Tim N.

    One can only assume Crist will appoint himself.

    August 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. Jason Liens

    I do not understand why first term Republicans like Mel and Sarah cannot finish their terms. He is so greatful and was so rewarded by serving, then why cannot he finish the next year and a half? If you are elected to office-all those folks who donated all of that money to you did not do so so that you would quit midstream-do they not realize that? Naturally, there probably is more to it--and we will find out soon. He may just simply be sick and tired of the darkness of the Republican Party and their hispanic bias (one of a gazillian bias's) as was evidenced in the latest Supreme Court vote. His flame as turned into a flicker.

    August 7, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. Linda B., Ga.

    I wish you THE BEST "MEL", you worked hard for your constituants.....I hope you aren't leaving early, for poor health reasons....

    August 7, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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