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 O'Brien

    Big opportunity for the Democratic Party. Don't blow it ! Mike in Montana

    August 7, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Chris - Denver

    Why couldn't it have been Inhoffe? Martinez at least doesn't make me want to throw up every time I hear him speak. Why are only the non-crazy Republicans steppng down?

    August 7, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. Drooling Liberal

    good riddance. after his vote for sotomeyracist, he wasn't winning re election anyways.

    August 7, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. katiec

    He probably could no longer tolerate the hypocrasy, prejudice and anti-American behavior of the republican party.

    August 7, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Sara, Ohio

    Sen. Martinez sounds like he has noble causes for his FL people and Cuba. I, as a Democrat, don't understand his departure. Did I miss something? He sounded like a moderate as I am. Unless he is a religious extremist. Any type of personal beliefs is great – it's the extremist part that's not. Anyway, good luck Sen. Martinez as a private citizen again. If you are leaving because of some flaws, we all have them as free will people.

    August 7, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Sniffit know, he voted to confirm Sotomayor and claimed his GOPer colleagues were just "making excuses." I wonder if he finally realized what a hateful bunch pewp-flinging monkeys he's been palling around with. Let the minority diaspora from the GOP continue...

    August 7, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Another Republican quitter...

    August 7, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  8. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Bye Mel,dont forget to take"Southern Cousin" to the vet,his case of rabies seem to be in the final stages,poor thing.Maybe she has a case of TCM too.We have mercy on our animals,do the right thing Mel.

    August 7, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Chris from NY

    Who can blame him. I think he couldn't handle anymore what's coming from the Republican party especially for refusing to support Sotomayor.

    August 7, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. Randolph Carter

    This is sort of odd. He doesn't really give a reason in his statement. I really hope it's not another scandal of some sort. I think we've had enough sex and corruption from both sides so far this year to last us a while. The only other thing it could be is serious illness. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Time will tell. Have a nice day!

    August 7, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. J.C.

    For whatever reason, I, as a voter, would feel betrayed by any elected official that resigns prematurely. I could have elected someone else that is not a quitter.

    August 7, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. Wha?


    Kid on drugs? Infidelity? Cancer?

    Where is the reason for giving up your seat Sen.?

    August 7, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Is there any word as to why he is leaving earlier than November of 2010? Is there something in his closet that is going to come out? Is he planning on running for governor of Florida? I wish the statement was a little more descriptive as to why he is stepping down when Crist finds a replacement... Unless Crist appoints himself the replacement.

    August 7, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. Once Upon a Horse

    wow ANOTHER one???

    August 7, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. JonDie

    Could even be bothered to serve out his term? So Republican!

    August 7, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Sara Weill

    The most important issue facing our nation is HEALTH CARE and how decisions made in Washington will effect us short term and long term. That is what we, your audience, wants to know about and hear about. Your obvious attempt to sensationalize a story about a Senator who wants to spend more time with his family should not be top news. What could possibly be the reason CNN is all but ignoring the Health Care story?

    August 7, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  17. greg

    don't let the door hit cha.

    August 7, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    Crist, you know it ain't easy.
    You know how hard it can be.
    Martinez is going,
    And now you want his Senate seat.

    August 7, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. Carl Justus

    He is giving Crist a chance to appoint himself so the republicans will have an encumbent in office for the democrats to run against.

    August 7, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. erp

    "As of Friday morning, it was unclear what Crist would do." What nonsense!

    He'll appoint himself of course.

    August 7, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Prezzy_Jr

    You did the right thing, Senator. The Republican party has turned into a right-wing extrimist group, and is not one any reasonable person should maintain or seek membership in.

    August 7, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. Capt.

    He ought to do something about those Union thugs pushing around the elderly at the Tampa Town Hall meeting last night. I have already recevied two emails about it – classy union thugs. The new Democratic Party.

    August 7, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. Melvina

    What's going on with Republicans quitting their positions in the middle of their terms? Doesn't the Republican party have enough problems without looking like a bunch of quitters?

    August 7, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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