December 3, 2008

Republican Mel Martinez will not seek reelection is 2010

Central Florida Republicans must be reeling.

Ultra-conservative Ric Keller’s surprising loss is probably still fresh news, but now comes the announcement by former Orange County (Orlando area) Chairman and current U.S. Senator Mel Martinez that he is stepping down.

Martinez went from contentious local politician to national player when President Bush chose him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2001. At the time, his only “national” credentials was having co-chaired Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign in Florida. Speaking with the media in Jacksonville In 2004, he won a close race for the Senate.

Since then, Martinez has done little to distinguish himself. Named general chairman of the Republican Party for the 2007–2008 election cycle, even conservatives were disappointed, partly because of his failure to provide any leadership. Martinez stepped down in October of 2007 from the post.

The Senator also was criticized for several small controversies and for his part in the Terri Schiavo case, where he and two fellow Republicans passed a law (the remaining 97 senators were not present) that was arguably un-Constitutional on several grounds, but which ultimately did nothing to change the outcome of that case.

A re-election bid in 2010 will likely be a difficult proposition. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that only 36 percent of voters believe Martinez deserves a second term, while 38 percent say that he doesn’t. If the election were held today, more would support the Democratic candidate.

The Senator, however, announced in a press release today that his decision is a personal one, stating “the call to public service is strong, but the call to home, family and lifelong friends is even stronger. “

Source: Examiner

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