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Mel Martinez To Retire

Fla. Sen. Mel Martinez figured to be a top target for Democrats in 2010. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R) has decided against seeking a second term, a decision he will formalize shortly in the Sunshine State, according to an informed party source.

Martinez's decision was based on a desire for more free time and a less scheduled life, said the source. The first term senator also was an almost certain Democratic target in two years time although those familiar with Martinez's political prospects insisted his strengths in South Florida, coupled with his political base along the I-4 corridor, made his path to reelection possible.

Martinez's retirement ensures a competitive and costly open seat race in Florida. State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, widely seen as Democrats' strongest potential candidate, has apparently decided that she would not run but may well reconsider that decision given Martinez's expected announcement today. Democratic Reps. Ron Klein and Kendrick Meek as well as state Sen. Dan Gelber are likely to consider the open seat race.

On the Republican side, there may well be a push to recruit former Gov. Jeb Bush into the contest although that seems like a long shot. State Attorney General Bill McCollum will almost certainly be mentioned as will state Senate President Jeff Atwater and former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack also may consider a run.

Martinez's retirement creates the second open seat of the 2010 cycle for Republicans. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is expected to leave the chamber to run for governor. Republicans must defend a total of 19 seats in 2010 as compared to 16 for Democrats.

Martinez's rapid rise through the Republican political ranks began a decade ago when he was elected Orange County (Fla.) Chairman. President George W. Bush then named Martinez to head the Housing and Urban Development department in 2000, where he became the first Cuban-American to hold a Cabinet-level post. After initially demurring, Martinez decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by longtime Sen. Bob Graham (D). He defeated Democrat Betty Castor in that contest. Two years later, Martinez served as stint as general chairman of the Republican National Committee.

"He's had a charmed political life in the best sense, completely unplanned, and totally motivated by wanting to give back to a country that has given him so much," said Phil Musser, a former senior adviser to Martinez at HUD. "In an era where most spend careers plotting their next move up, Mel's heart has always guided him, as it does today, and that's one of the things that makes him so special."

President-elect Barack Obama's victory in Florida last month coupled with Martinez's ties to the unpopular outgoing president made him a major target for Democrats heading into the 2010 cycle. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month showed 36 percent of Florida voters thought Martinez deserved a second term while 38 percent did not -- troubling numbers for any incumbent. In that same survey roughly three in ten (31 percent) of voters had a favorable impression of Martinez while 28 percent had an unfavorable view of the Florida Republican.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 2, 2008; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Does anyone, who is considering Jebbie for the Senate, remember the Terri Schiavo (?) fiasco? Or did Florida, unlike the United States, favor this fiasco which was originated and orchestrated by him?

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | December 5, 2008 3:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm Hispanic. My family is Hispanic. We're legal citizens because we're from Puerto Rico meaning we don't need green cards, student visas, work visas and such. I don't support illegal immigration, nor do I support amnesty.
Even so I am angry, but not surprised by the bigotry, racism and xenophobia I am reading in the comments. There seems to be a large number of dumb, racist, southern hick republicans typing here. I'm surprised some of you can actually write this well.
So called democrats, you deserve some blame also. You talk of inclusion, but you want to eliminate all moderates and conservatives from the conversation and disregard their votes. I'm not supporting republicans, but they have a right to display their ideas, regardless of how stupid or irrelevent they may seem. Have you already forgotten the message of change, unity and opportunity Obama had preached in this campaign. It's funny how people are all equal and have the same rights, as long as their beliefs are close to your own.

Posted by: NYreporter | December 3, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Well alright buzzm1......You have said it all......and it all makes sense....Right on!!!

Posted by: MsE1 | December 3, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Zorro1x; you could read more. The community reinvestment act of 1977, (jimmy carter) and its reinvigoraton in 1998 (bill clintion) is was caused the mortage industry to fall. Look it up and read.
As for mel martinez, he was being impeached by florida voters over his suport of amnesty of illegal alein law breakers. For conservatives to be elected into office (be it republican or other) all they need to do is stop acting like democrats. Conservatives lost because those choosen to run are not conservatives. As to illegal alein, law breaking tresspassers; they cost the Ameican taxpayer, 433 billion dollars a year. They murder 13 American citizens, kill 12 more while driving drunk, sexually assault 8 children and rape 17 women a day. Add up just the murders it comes to 4745 American citizens a year. That is more than 5 years total fighting the islamic terrorists. Mel don't let the screen door hit ya on the way out. And just say no to elections of any moslems.

Posted by: Creekindianwoman | December 3, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Senator Martinez is the latest casualty in the culture wars within the GOP. Of Cuban heritage and a moderate on immigration policy Martinez likely would have faced opposition from the dominant "fear, intolerant and purity ideologues" of the far right here in FL. A warning to any party leader or elected Republican who dares to even think a moderate thought......the Sarah Palin led demagogues will be out to get you too!! Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower must be shaking their heads in total disbelief!

Posted by: dwatson1 | December 3, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

37thandO posts

"All I can say is many of the comments posted here are RACIST - the democrats really have fallen far."

Don't you recall your own racist commentary during the primaries and the election. You are the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | December 3, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

37thandO posts

"All I can say is many of the comments posted here are RACIST - the democrats really have fallen far."

Don't you recall your own racist commentary during the primaries and the election. You are the pot calling the kettle black.

Posted by: Thatsnuts | December 3, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Martinez seemed an adequate, moderate public servant from this distance. If he allows Crist to appoint by stepping down early, we might expect another moderate R to be given a head start. For those of us [like bsimon] not seeking to marginalize the R Party as some sort of parlor game, more moderate Rs are favored over the theocons and the Club For Growth.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | December 3, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Choosing Jeb Bush to replace Martinez? That's a brilliant idea... If Jeb changes his last name.

By the way, said Jeb Bush, speaking at a Republican event last week, said that the GOP should organize a "shadow government" to counteract a Demoratic-controlled Congress.

A "shadow government"? Is this not treason? At the very least, what Jeb Bush is preaching is "destructive obstructionism" on the part of the Republicans. What's the matter with the Bush boys that they hate America so much?

Posted by: Gatsby1 | December 2, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

This is just one more reason Senate Republicans must watch their step should they try to filibuster major Obama Proposals, especially those on the economy. This in spite of the predicable Chambliss victory that keeps the Democrats from mounting a cloture vote with just their own numbers.

If the GOP stands in the way in such a way that the majority in the nation see them as an impediment to recovery, they stand to continue their election nose-dive. Already they must defend more seats. Certainly an open seat in Florida signals a Democratic pick-up possibility (Kansas probably not so much unless the current governor runs).

There is enough of a pragmatic and moderate Republican presence in the Senate, though they be few, that it will be hard for the GOP to mount a filibuster.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | December 2, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey CC, how about the latest from the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Posted by: rosenblj | December 2, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

By all the Martinez animosity? I was always of the impression that he was a moderate. Other than immigration, no one really has given a position of his that they really hate. Is it just because of his party?

Posted by: DDAWD | December 2, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Another Republican failure slinks off. What does Florida, or America have after 30 years of anti-government right-wing christian ideological extremism? A trashed government, phony wars, monster deficits and a lot of rich CEO's and Military contractors with new condo's in Dubai. Thanks a lot. Good riddance Senator Martinez. Can you take Christ with you?

Posted by: thebobbob | December 2, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Halleluja !!!!
Martinez is a RINO who needs to go!
I puke every time I realize he represents my state, Florida.

Posted by: storoit | December 2, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

The D's have a solid bench in FL, including CFO Sink, Reps. Castor, Klein, Boyd, Meek, Wexler and WS, Mayors Buddy Dyer of Orlando and Pam Iorio of Tampa Bay, and former Rep. and Gov nominee Jim Davis and possibly a few others.

R's don't have quite the bench, with Jeb likely being the strongest candidate, with Reps. Diaz-Balart (either one) or Ros-Lehtinen or maybe Mack following, IMO. I am not sure how strong Rubio would be, while McCollum or (please no) Katherine Harris would hurt the GOP's chances. Senate Pres. Atwater or fmr. Speaker Bense could be possibilities, as well as several current or former statewide elected officials.

Posted by: AnthonyJBrady | December 2, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Debbie Wasserman Schultz if there is a more hateful person than her in politics I don't know who it would be, but hey change didn't last long did it?

Posted by: wbindner | December 2, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Many of these comments are ridiculously racist, from both so called liberals and conservatives. I'm Hispanic. He is not a traitor to "Brownskinned" people. Not all Hispanics are brownskinned or consider themselves brownskinned. Some are mixed, some are white, some are black, I'm neither, but I'm light-skinned and look mixed so I'm not brownskinned.
Cubans are not Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guatamalans or any other Latin ethnicity you want to mention. A Brit would not want to be called a Russian. An Italian doesn't want to seen as a Turk, so why do you think we can chain all Latinos together as one.
The immigration issue is different for a Cuban than it is for a Mexican or Central American, who are seen as border crossers. Cubans came here to escape the Castros and Communinism. If they are caught in the sea they are sent back to Cuba. If they make it to American shores they get amnesty.
Someone coming from south of the border or even north, that's right Canadians come here illegally also, they can be imprisoned and sent back. For a Puerto Rican, such as myself, we're born American citizens so we cannot be deported. We're part of the US, even if some of you are too stupid to realize we have all American rights the moment we enter the 50 states. It's legally easier for Cubans to get citizenship than any non-Puerto Rican Hispanics.
You can't expect a third-generation Cuban American to view the world or the issues the same as a first-generation Hispanic from anywhere else. There's a reason so many Cuban politicians here are Republicans, while most other Hispanics are usually Democrats or even radical leftists.
As for martinez not returning, good maybe Floridans are finally escaping their stereotypes as old southerns, old New Yorkers, old Jews and/or lefty-hating Republican Cubans.

Posted by: NYreporter | December 2, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Why did "the fix" not mention Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a good Florida congresswoman? She'd be great. So typical to marginalize the viable female candidates while shaking the rafters for any male prospect who can fog a mirror."

Are we just tossing any women out there? I'm no expert on DWS, but she never struck me as all that great. Good enough for Congress, sure, but not Presidential material. Definitely not Hillary level.

Then again, I'm no expert.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 2, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Why did "the fix" not mention Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a good Florida congresswoman? She'd be great. So typical to marginalize the viable female candidates while shaking the rafters for any male prospect who can fog a mirror.
These "liberal" Dems. who went nuts over The One and "hated" Hillary Clinton - get a clue. Your Boyz Klub bias is showing - shame on you.
For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my....state. Go Deb - form a committee and you will have a donation from me.
A Florida mom

Posted by: OrlandoNan | December 2, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Whenever either of the Bush brothers walked it was Martinez in their pockets saying, "jingle, jingle, jingle." He won his seat by a disgracefully negative campaign. Good riddance to a bad hack.

Posted by: IssyWise | December 2, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"Not many others get me very excited except Wexler."

Yeah, he can really liven up a Rules and Bylaws committee meeting, can't he? That's not easy. It's a frickin R+B meeting.

Posted by: DDAWD | December 2, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really believe Jeb Bush has a chance?

Hasn't the USA had enough of the bush family???

Posted by: knjincvc | December 2, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Adios 'Smelly Melly'!

Don't let the door hit your arse on your way back to taco-land!

Posted by: Heerman532 | December 2, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I just got back from Florida and can truthfully testify that the entire state seems to be populated with miscreants, blue hairs, fereners and sun stroke victims. I can only guess they like it so much there because of its proximity to the United States.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | December 2, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Martinez has been all over the place. I feel there is more here than meets the eye. Jeb! is certainly an option now that it has been proven that the presidency can be won from that august body. Crist and McCollum also can be expected to consider the Senate also. Not many others get me very excited except Wexler.

Posted by: stevepj | December 2, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Martínez sees that the Castro brothers are doomed and that the children of the exiles must rise to a task worthy of Martí. After retiring from the US Senate, he will become head of a "provisional government in exile," and seek nomination of a new PDC party for presidential elections to be held on the island in 2012.

Posted by: jkoch2 | December 2, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Now that "Smelly Melly" is to step aside, how about the Republicans or Democrats or both choosing a candidate from amongst Florida's burgeoning Muslim population? For sure, that would be change we could believe in.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | December 2, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"things must be really bad when 37thst (or whatever alias he is now using) calls others racist!"

Remember when Palin was first announced as the VP pick and the Republican pundits accused anything that moved of being sexist?

Posted by: DDAWD | December 2, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

AMNESTY!! Forced removal of immigrants should be illegal, those who call for it care nothing about the lives of the hardworking immigrants here. The attacks on this group (Hispanics) have taken on a racist character and the more foaming at the mouth the reactionary side does the more obvious their racist tendencies become!

Posted by: jmr862003 | December 2, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

things must be really bad when 37thst (or whatever alias he is now using) calls others racist! Actually I think he is "buzzm1". The chances of there being two such obtuse trolls on this board are too great. Keep up the good work, guys! The next time you will see a Republican president who reflects your collective values is--hopefully--never!

Posted by: fgg1 | December 2, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I suggest Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz
(D-FL) would be a strong candidate for
that Senate seat.

Posted by: geralhanna | December 2, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Buzz said:


I agree. Send all those illegals back to where they came from--EUROPE!

Posted by: esr11 | December 2, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm as happy as the next that Mel is leaving, but good god people, the xenophobic rhetoric is disgusting.

Posted by: weavermiami | December 2, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Amazing what chickenshıts these people are, always fleeing into retirement the instant that poll numbers seem to turn against them.

PS buzzm1: people like you give me hope that the GOP will remain marginalized for a long time to come. Keep up the rants!

Posted by: kenonwenu | December 2, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse



Illegals, using forged, and/or stolen identities, have illegally obtained up to 8.7 million jobs; these are jobs that Americans will do, jobs in food processing, jobs in manufacturing; these are jobs that rightfully belonged to American workers in the first place.


THE ALL-AMERICAN STIMULUS PLAN WILL SAVE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS 300 BILLION DOLLARS EACH, AND EVERY, YEAR (the estimated annual cost of illegal immigrants to American taxpayers)!!!






#1. Make Illegal Entry a Felony Permanently Barring Citizenship
#2. Secure Our Borders with our National Guard!!!
#3. Mandate E-Verify for ALL Employees!!!
#4. Cut Off ALL Public Assistance to Illegals and Their Children!!!
#5. Stop the Underground Economy!!!
#6. End Birthright Citizenship for Illegals!!!
#7. End Chain Migration!!!
#8. Make English our Official Language!!!
#9. Cut Off Federal Funds to Sanctuary Cities!!


Posted by: buzzm1 | December 2, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you just tell the truth, Mel:

It really sucks being a Republican,

I'm sick of having to raise all the money,

Without a majority to push people around,I hate the job so much I'd almost rather be home...

but if something happens to change that, anything at all...

Posted by: bgreen2224 | December 2, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

dschauer wrote: "According to local news reports he may leave office early so that Gov. Crist can appoint a replacement and give them a head start in the race."

The big question: Would Gov. Crist appoint someone to appease the religious right or a "big tent" Republican of the type Crist says is needed to lead the GOP back into power?

Crist's running mate, Jeff Kottkamp, and his recent appointment to the Florida Supreme Court, Charles Canady, were sops to the religious right. Kottkamp lead the fight to deny Terri Schiavo her right to decide for herself whether she should be forced be a vegatable for the rest of her life. Canady helped lead the fight to impeach Pres. Clinton and as an appellate judge was as anti-abortion as one can be.

On the other hand, Crist recently made clear that he believes the GOP must expand beyond the religious right if it expects to be more than a regional party. He could further that goal by appointing a "big tent" Republican to finish Martinez's term. I'd bet on the latter, because he's already given plenty to the religious right.

Posted by: Garak | December 2, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse



YEAR -------- U.S.---- -----DECADE GAIN --GREEN CARDS ---
1920 ----106,021,537
------------------------- ------17,181,087 ----
1930 ----123,202,624
------------------------- -------8,961,945 ----
1940 ----132,164,569
------------------------- ------19,161,229 ----
1950 ----151,325,798
------------------------- ------27,997,377 ----
1960 ----179,323,175
------------------------- ------23,888,751 ----
1970 ----203,211,926
------------------------- ------23,333,879 ----4,323,688
1980 ----226,545,805
------------------------- ------22,164,068 ----6,750,168
1990 ----248,709,873
------------------------- ------32,712,036 ----9,447,963
2000 ----281,421,906
------------------------- --est. 33,568,094---10,214,981
2010 ----315,000,000



Posted by: buzzm1 | December 2, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

(one LESS republican!)

Posted by: kase | December 2, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse





All I can say is many of the comments posted here are RACIST - the democrats really have fallen far.





Posted by: 37thOStreetRules | December 2, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Martinez squeaked by in 2004 winning election with just 49.4% in a good year for Florida Republicans.

The campaign between Martinez and Betty Castor was so nasty that a third-party candidate received 166,000 votes (2.2%).

Minor party candidates do not usually win many votes in statewide elections in Florida.

Posted by: Digital_Voter | December 2, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Before 2009 even arrives this now has to be the second seat Democrats are at least a slight favorite to win now in 2010(Kentucky the other). Martinez would have no doubt been vulnerable. But, it seems likely an open-seat will be easier to pick up than winning it from a Cuban-American in Florida.
Draft Alex Sink or Ron Klein.

Posted by: jdunph1 | December 2, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

a sell out to his own brown people - good riddance!

Posted by: a_DC_denizen | December 2, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The disastrous home-ownership plan that's resulted in the disastrous subprime loans/foreclosure cycle can be traced to Mel Martinez's leadership. That's why he's not running. He would have been defeated easily.

Posted by: zorro1x | December 2, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Martinez has been all over the place. I feel there is more here than meets the eye. Jeb! is certainly an option now that it has been proven that the presidency can be won from that august body. Crist and McCollum also can be expected to consider the Senate also. Not many others get me very excited except Wexler.

Posted by: stevepj | December 2, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

He was the only one of my three Congressmen who flipped his vote on the bailout after an additional $150 billion in pork was added to it.

He lost my vote then, so good riddance.

Posted by: WilliamLindsay | December 2, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

According to local news reports he may leave office early so that Gov. Crist can appoint a replacement and give them a head start in the race.

Posted by: dschauer | December 2, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The timing is interesting/odd given that the election is 2 years away. There may be something behind this. Or maybe he's just bowing to political reality that shows he'd have a strong fight to retain his seat....

Posted by: RickJ | December 2, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Watch carefully who the GOP select as successors to Martinez & Brownback. Will they go for moderates & try to retake the political middle? Or appease the base & stay right?

Posted by: bsimon1 | December 2, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Good riddance to another Retardlican!

Posted by: hairguy01 | December 2, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes! Yes! Yes. I am sending my Congressman Wexler to the Senate. I will lift him up bodily and take him there myself. I will vote with my 2 hands. I already have 6 votes ready. Please do it Congressman, please. You were Obama's lone voice in Florida for many months and we will never forget you for that. Your time has come.

Posted by: bluemountcafe | December 2, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

martinez decided to resign after his stunning realization that he was not in Cuba.

Posted by: tontosage | December 2, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why he would announce now. He is now a lame duck for the next two years, and in the Senate where it is all about favors and deals between Senators he will have almost no power. It smells to me like someone has got something nasty on him and told him if he ran again they would use it against him in the primaries or the general election.

This will be a nice possible pick up for the Dems IMO especially if Sink reconsiders.

Posted by: AndyR3 | December 2, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: mattadamsdietmanager1014 | December 2, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Thank heavens Martinez did not succeed at his grand plan of enacting Amnesty to criminal aliens for the sake of splitting the Latino vote. I see his retirement as an indicator that he has failed at this mission, and thank the Lord for that.

Posted by: seenitallnow1 | December 2, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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