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. Ponder This

    Why do these people always have to mention their FAITH? Who cares about their faith fercrisakes? We have screwed up this country with elected officials and a public who think that a politition's faith should be a public issue.

    August 7, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  2. RCasson

    He left early because he's ashamed to be a Republican. He was only one of a handful to confirm Judge Sotomayor. I'd be ashamed too.

    August 7, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. Kevin

    How Gov. Crist can appoint himself to the Senate seat instead of having to wait another 17 months to be seated.

    August 7, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. Jason

    I've noticed that CNN is blocking comments on a lot of their post these days. Maybe they don't want to hear what we have to say as much as they claim too?

    August 7, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Good job Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida on the vote for voting to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now you need to run for Florida Govenor just change places with Gov. Charlie Crist. Good luck on this.

    August 7, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Fred

    I wonder how much his vote for (and Republican backlash) our new supreme court judge had to do with his decision?

    August 7, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. Chuck

    Good Riddence! He has embarrassed me enough as a representative of the State of Florida where i live. He is pompous ,arrogant and ignorant to the needs of a lot of people that do not want to live by rigid social rules. Bye bye now bye bye!!!

    August 7, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. cspurgeon

    I hope that Charlie Crist appoints himself. He is a good Govenor and a good man and I am an Independent voter. Martinez hardly ever voted anything but the party line and Crist will be much more independent just as he was in florida. Go Charlie.

    August 7, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Richard

    What is the real reason for his early depature??

    August 7, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Pierre Joseph

    Martinez is making a bold move stepping down so early...

    Wow this puts Crist in an interesting position...
    Politically it would serve him to appoint himself to the position get some experience attract some attention, and run for re-election when the time comes

    August 7, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Tatianna

    Honorable statement. But i know the rabid lefties will attack him. Their extremely talented in attacking. Dont believe me? Theyre comments back up my statement.

    August 7, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. mike,Texas

    He votes for the Judge and then he retires the next day.He obviously got death threats from the extreamist republican party.

    August 7, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Robin in Tampa, FL

    Mel's resignation is a clear sign that he was fed up with the Republican party, I don't blame him at all.

    August 7, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Sniffit

    The real reason the GOP and corporate interests are getting people to disrupt town hall meetings: to prevent any real, accurate information from being disseminated so that people can get educated about what the health care reform measures are actually going to be and how they will work and effect us. It's simple...shift the focus away from allowing questions to be answered with factual data and towards ranting, raving, fear mongering, hype and the spreading of misinformation. If you don't think the dumbing down of America is the cornerstone of the GOP's platform, you're pretty much already there.

    August 7, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Paul

    Not another Republican ducking out? A new eipidemic of Palinism? At least his statement is coherent.

    August 7, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  16. David

    I hope Sen. Martinez Might has the courage to identify that one of his reasons for leaving is the increasingly uncivil and dangerous climate of politics recently – That could have a major, positive impact of those who engage in, organize or collude in shout-downs, mob behavior & hateful rhetoric to shut down legitimate,substantive public discussions. Thanks for your courage in standing up to the NRA on your Soutamoyer vote, and Godspeed to you and your family – David

    August 7, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  17. David

    I wonder if Gov. Christ is allowed to appoint himself.

    August 7, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. Lynda/Minnesota

    I wish you best of luck in all your future endeavors Mr. Martinez.

    I can honestly say that what is happening within the republican party is disgusting to say the least. The right wingnuts are using it's members in the most shameful and disgraceful manner. I bowed out of the party in 2001 and haven't looked back. I encourage others to do so as well.

    For the first time in my adult life I am very proud to no longer be a republican.

    August 7, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. D in Georgia

    So Crist is certainly going to appoint himself... right? This definitely puts a wrench in the 2010 senate race. Crist has a lot to consider in whether to give himself a leg up in the race.

    August 7, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Ivan Schiff

    Why not fill out the term you were elected for?
    You must be quiting to give a republican replacement an unfair advantage in the upcoming election.

    August 7, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Gator

    Another quitter. It is not the first time for Martinez.

    Is he quitting so that an opportunist Crist can appoint himself to help minimize his primary opponent next year? We'll see.

    August 7, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  22. Paul

    I wonder if the GOP will have any statements regarding their own JOB LOSS report? lolololololololololololol

    August 7, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  23. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Now if we could just get rid of the 39 repubican senators left!

    August 7, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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