Senator Mel Martinez opts not to run for re-election in Florida

Huge news out of Florida.  Senator Mel Martinez WILL NOT run for re-election in 2010. 

The Hill is reporting that Martinez “announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2010, passing on what looked to be one of the most difficult reelection battles in the country.”

Republican Senator Martinez calls out lie by Cheney

Mel Martinez

The Republican Junior Senator from Florida really hadn’t been heard from during his 4 years in office.  The Cuban-born Martinez did weigh in on the illegal immigration issue as well as against the party’s ‘drill baby drill’ position until John McCain and Florida Governor Charlie Crist became supporters of off-shore drilling.

He had short runs as Housing and Urban Development secretary and as co-chair of the Republican National Committee when the party lost seats during the 2006 election.

During the 2004 Republican primary for the Senate, The St. Petersburg Times had endorsed Martinez against his opponent, Bill McCollum.  The Times retracted the endorsement after Martinez called McCollum “the new darling of the homosexual extremists.” 

Martinez’s had indicated his intention to run for re-election but was planning on making the announcement after the first of the year. 

His decision to forego the reelection bid makes the already difficult attempt at a Republican hold even more difficult.

There have already been a large number of Democrats whose names have been tossed about – Representatives Allen Boyd, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ron Klein, Robert Wexler and Kathy Castor and Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Wexler was an early Barack Obama supporter and was one of Congresses loudest voices pushing for the impeachments of Bush and Cheney.

Wasserman Schultz is best known in Congress as the person who threw the rubber stamps and declared that the former Republican Congress would not be a ‘rubber stamp Congress.’  She is also Chris Matthews’s favorite Congressional guest.  You have to watch him interview her.

Sink is a first term CFO and is married to former Florida Governor candidate, Bill McBride.

I would like to see either Wasserman Schultz or Wexler get the nod though I am a big fan of a person not on the initial list.  My personal choice is Daryl Jones.  He is a retired colonel in the Air Force and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives.  In 2002, he became the first African American to run for Florida governor in 2002 and the second chosen to run for lieutenant governor in 2006 (the only other African American was Republican David Montgomery in 1876.  Yes 1876)

The question is who will replace Martinez as the Republican candidate for the seat? 

Former Governor Jeb Bush comes to mind.  He needs somewhere to build up the Bush name again.  Bush, however, had already declined to run against Bill Nelson in 2006.

Will Katherine Harris have the stones to give it another try?  I seriously doubt it.          

MSNBC host of Morning Joe and former Congressman, Joe Scarborough was also approached about running in 2006.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he would give it a go this time.

My prediction is that U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV will go for that seat.  His father held the Senate seat now held by Bill Nelson.

Other names I can think of:  Current Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and current Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum (who twice failed in previous Senate runs, including the 2004 loss to Martinez).

I would love to see Rush Limbaugh throw his hat into the ring.  Rush lives in Palm Beach County.

In order to give the Republican the advantage in 2010, Martinez should resign the seat allowing Republican Governor Charlie Crist to appoint his replacement.

Sources:  Read Sen. Martinez won’t run for re-election in 2010 in The Hill

[Update] 

The spokesman for Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced today, “the congresswoman is very happy in the House of Representatives where she plans to continue to work on behalf of the people of Florida’s 20th Congressional District.”

The Sun-Sentinel provided some good analysis for Wasserman Schultz’s decision:

She’s chairwoman of a subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee. That position, known as one of the cardinals who make decisions on the federal budget, is extraordinarily powerful, and achieving it was a major feat for a junior member. And it puts her on the ladder that ultimately could see her ascend to the top levels of government in the House.

“Wasserman Schultz is also unabashedly liberal, something that puts her in sync with her South Florida district but might not sit so well with voters in a statewide election.” 

[Another update]

At 1:50 pm Bill McCollum has put out a statement.  If you recall from a few paragraphs up, McCollum was the one smeared by Martinez in 2004 and is currently Florida Attorney General.

“I have been asked today whether this announcement will have any effect on my plans for the future. At this point, my plan is – at the appropriate time – to announce my intention to seek re-election as Florida’s Attorney General. However, given today’s development, I will seriously consider and discuss with my family a race for this U.S. Senate seat, and we will share our decision at a later date.”

 

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