Sen. Martinez won’t seek re-election in battleground of Florida

December 2, 2008

Posted by Michael Peltier and Thomas Ferraro

WASHINGTON — Republican Mel Martinez of Florida — a Cuban immigrant who says he lived “The American Dream” — is calling it quits as a member of the U.S. Senate.

Having narrowly won a first term in 2004 and facing an anticipated tough re-election in 2010, Martinez announced on Tuesday he will not run for a second term.

“The inescapable truth, for me, is that the call to public service is strong — but the call to home, family and lifelong friends is even stronger,” Martinez said in a statement that he read at a news conference in Orlando, Florida, and was also released in Washington.

Martinez made his declaration almost a month after the Nov. 4 elections that saw Democrats expand their majorities in Senate and House of Representatives, largely because of the unpopularity of outgoing Republican President George W. Bush and the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression.

Martinez is the second U.S. senator up for re-election in 2010 who has announced he will not seek another term. The other is Sam Brownback of Kansas, who’s also a Republican. Both plan to complete their six-year terms before leaving.

Thirty-five seats of the 100 Senate seats will be up for grabs in two years, 16 of them held by Democrats, 19 by Republicans.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races, had listed Martinez as among the most vulnerable incumbents. It had called his race as a “tossup.”

Martinez, 62, came to the United States at age 15, graduated from college, earned a law degree and ended up getting elected to the Senate after serving in Bush’s Cabinet as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“We proved the American Dream is alive and well,” Martinez said. He said his decision not to seek another term was personal, not political.

“Some might try to characterize this decision in terms of political affairs. Some will say a re-election campaign would have been too difficult. But I’ve faced much tougher odds in political campaigns and in life. My decision was not based on reelection prospects, but on what I want to do with the next eight years of my life,” the senator said.

Democrats and Republicans are certain to move quickly in a search for possible candidates to replace him.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage.

– Photo credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith (Martinez speaks during the Republican National Convention in September.)

One comment

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Well, at least this saves us the trouble of un-seating him in the next election.

When I recall the Karl Rove-style campaign of alarmist innuendo and propaganda he levied against Betty Castor (and Bill McCollum, for that matter), it still makes my blood boil.

Betty Castor deserved the position in 2004 and would still make a dedicated and effective Senator today.

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