Today, U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) announced that he will not be seeking a second term in 2010 as one of Florida’s U.S. Senators.
Senator Martinez said:
“If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that life can have many wonderful detours from where you think you’re going. These result from chance, adversity, and a call to duty.
“As a teenager growing up in Cuba, I saw comfort and the rule of law replaced by tyranny and communist oppression. I saw people beaten for practicing their faith. I remember those who spoke out vanishing – never to be seen again. My parents, with the help of the Catholic Church, sent me here, to the United States – a place to be safe until we could be reunited.
“It was here that I learned the greatness of this country – and the genuine goodness of the American people. I lived with two foster families – good, decent, loving people who answered a call from the pulpit one Sunday to take in a boy they did not know, from a country they had never seen, who spoke a language they did not understand.
“I thank God for the Young and Berkmeyer families. They helped me understand what it means to be American – what it is to aspire to live the American dream – and the profound virtue of giving back to your community.
“After four years I was reunited with my family. I went to college and law school. I met the woman who would become my best friend, my partner and counsel. Kitty and I settled in Orlando – my only true home after I left Cuba. We started a family, sent our two older children, Lauren and John, to Bishop Moore High School – the same school I attended – and where our younger son, Andrew, started as a freshman this year. Orlando is where I built a law practice, and where I was encouraged to become an active member of this vibrant and growing community.
“After years of involvement in numerous community organizations and boards and with encouragement from many friends, I threw my hat into the political ring, running for Orange County Mayor.
“What an honor it would be,” I thought, “to serve as Mayor of the community that took me in.” It was a race where I started in last place. Pundits openly wondered whether a Hispanic could be elected Orange County Mayor at a time when only 5% of the registered voters in our county were Hispanic.
“So in November of 1998 I began my term believing that after four – or maybe eight years at most – I would return to the private sector. Neither my family nor I had planned or hoped for anything different.
“You all know that one thing led to another. From Mayor, I went to serve in the President’s Cabinet. From there, I made the run for U.S. Senate. Again, I started in last place, ran against an impressive field of candidates who had the resources and statewide recognition that should have ended my run early on. Those who volunteered with me knew the odds were against us; no other office holder had been elected on their first statewide run.
“But we persevered. We proved the American Dream is alive and well, especially when an immigrant arriving here with nothing can one day be elected to serve in the United States Senate.
“The Senate is the only federal office carrying a six-year term, so a decision about whether to run for re-election is one that my family and I have carefully considered over the past year. It was a question that came to mind as I wrote my book – causing me to reflect on the path I’ve chosen, and to think about, with love and gratitude, those who’ve traveled with me.
“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.
“So today, with deep love for this country and with sincere gratitude to the people who placed their trust in me, I announce that I will not run for reelection to the United States Senate.
“I thank all of those who helped me reach the highest elected office that an immigrant can hold in this great country. And I especially thank my family, who has supported me every step of the way – especially Kitty, who has sacrificed much more than me and without whom none of this would have been possible.
“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 thought of devoting more time to my roles as husband, dad, granddad, brother and son to the family I love and cherish, and to be “Mel” to the friends I miss – makes this decision far easier than one might think.
“So with two years left in my term, I make this announcement today in order to give the many qualified individuals who might choose to try to succeed me an opportunity to organize and gather support.
“I look forward to serving out these next two years. There are big problems facing Florida and the nation, and I will continue to do what I think is in the best interests of the people whom I represent.
“Thank you; God bless you; and God Bless the United States of America.”
Media Release from:
Florida’s senior senator praises Martinez, stays quiet about possible candidates in 2010
St. Petersburg, Fla. - U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s announcement this morning that he won’t seek re-election in two years was followed by laudatory words from Florida’s senior Sen. Bill Nelson who stayed quiet on Democrats who might line up to run for what will be an open seat.
Nelson, following a previously scheduled speech in St. Petersburg, deflected questions about who he might support for the post and insisted that thanking Martinez for his many years of public service be the topic instead.
“Mel has been a good friend, a good Senate colleague, and a good public servant – and I wish him well in the future,” said Nelson, who was the keynote speaker Tuesday morning at the commissioning of a new Coast Guard cutter in St. Petersburg.
Martinez was elected to the Senate in 2004 after serving as the U.S. secretary for Housing and Urban Development for President George W. Bush. Interestingly, Martinez and Nelson also are neighbors in the Baldwin Park neighborhood of Orlando.
Statement from Bill McCollum on Martinez Announcement
Tallahassee–Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum released the following statement:
“I was surprised to learn today that Senator Mel Martinez will not be seeking re-election for his post in 2010. Senator Martinez has served his constituents and our state admirably, and with his decision not to seek another term the people of Florida are losing a dedicated public servant.
“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.”
BOYD STATEMENT ON SENATOR MARTINEZ'S RETIREMENT
TALLAHASSEE, FL—Congressman Allen Boyd (D-North Florida) released the following statement today in regards to Sen. Mel Martinez's announcement that he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2010:
"I want to join my fellow Floridians in thanking Senator Martinez for his service. I am a fifth generation Floridian with deep roots in the state, and I want to see the state I love and my fellow Floridians thrive. Right now, our state and our nation are experiencing challenging times. President-elect Obama and Senator Bill Nelson will need a strong, steady partner in the U.S. Senate. We need aggressive, bipartisan solutions to the economic, domestic, and foreign policy challenges that face the country.
"I have been considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, prior to Sen. Martinez's announcement today. I will continue to discuss the race with state and national party leaders and with my supporters in North Florida and throughout the state. Most importantly, I'll talk about this with my family, and I expect we'll make a final decision very early next year."