|It's official. The race for Florida's second Senate seat in 2010 is ON. From WaPo's Chris Cillizza:
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.Why do you think Rep. Meek suddenly discovered his long lost love for Barack Obama in the closing weeks of the campaign ... rather, his love for "just voting..."
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.
The Florida Democratic Party chair, Karen Thurman, had this to say:
"With Sen. Mel Martinez's announcement today that he will not seek re-election, I would like to thank him for his service to Florida and the nation, as well as wish him all the best in retirement.It's on, boys and girls.
"Martinez's announcement ensures that Florida will be a central battleground in the 2010 election. Over the past three years, Democrats have made major gains in Florida winning three of the six statewide elections. We look forward to a strong Democrat winning this Senate seat to help implement President-elect Barack Obama vision of change and join Sen. Bill Nelson in representing Florida in the tradition of Bob Graham and Lawton Chiles."
Labels: 2010, Florida, Mel Martinez, politics, U.S. Senate