Politicians, activists react to Martinez’s resignationby Palm Beach Post Staff | August 7th, 2009
People in Florida and national politics reacted today to reports of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s impending resignation:
“Mel Martinez’s life is a testament to the boundless promise that exists in America, where a young Cuban exile can come to the United States without his parents and rise to become a Cabinet secretary and U.S. senator. As he looks ahead towards the next phase of his life, I wish him and his family all the best.
“As Governor Crist considers who he will appoint as Florida’s next U.S. senator, I urge him to take great care in his selection. Florida deserves an interim senator who will go to Washington and serve as a true check on President Obama’s push for more wasteful government spending, government-run health care and cap-and-trade. The last thing Florida needs is a U.S. senator that will stand with President Obama instead of challenging the wrong direction he is leading our country and offering constructive conservative solutions moving forward.”
— Republican former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat
“Senator Mel Martinez made history when he was elected to the U.S. Senate and I wish him only the best in his future endeavors. It is fitting that one of Senator Martinezs final votes was to confirm a history-making Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor and I am so pleased that he cast this vote one that I wholeheartedly support.”
— Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a 2010 candidate for Martinez’s seat
“Mel has been a good Senate colleague of mine, as well as a personal friend. He also has been a dedicated public servant for Florida. I look forward to our continued friendship — and to having the same bipartisan working relationship with his successor.”
— U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida
“I have a great deal of respect for my good friend Mel Martinez. I know this decision was a difficult one for him, but I think he is doing what he believes is right for him and his family. We will immediately begin the process of selecting an appropriate replacement to serve the remainder of Senator Martinez’s term and I look forward to making an announcement in the coming weeks.”
— Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican candidate for Martinez’s U.S. Senate seat
“… Gov. Charlie Crist has a responsibility to appoint an independent caretaker to serve with Sen. Bill Nelson to represent the Sunshine State through the end of Martinez’s current term. U.S. Senate seats should not be political footballs. The last thing Florida needs are Republicans playing politics with a U.S. Senate seat while we face the largest economic crisis of our lifetimes and the Congress is tackling critical issues such as health insurance reform and global warming, so it is critical that Charlie Crist not play political games with the public’s trust.
“Martinez’s announcement today reaffirms the fact that Florida will be a central battleground over the next 16 months. In 2010, every statewide office in Florida will be wide open with no incumbents running for re-election, for the first time in 134 years.”
— Florida Democratic Party Chair Karen Thurman
“Americans owe a debt of gratitude to Senator Martinez for being a strong opponent of government–run health care. The (Democrats’ proposed) public option is patient enemy number one, and stopping it will be job number one come September. Governor Crist’s appointment decision is absolutely critical to truly reforming health care for patients with cost-lowering solutions rather than a government overhaul that will lead to higher costs and a delay and denial of health care services.”
— Rick Scott, chairman of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights
“He voted for (Sonia) Sotomayor (for the U.S. Supreme Court). That must have cost him in the Republican conference. I get the impression that he’s a decent guy who I imagine had to be pretty uncomfortable with the way the Republcian Party conducted itself after the last election. It’s certainly a surprise.
“He (Crist) has to name a placeholder. If he were to name himself, I think he’d be guaranteeing his defeat in the fall (of 2010). And turning the state over to (Lt. Gov. Jeff) Kottkamp would be a disaster.”
— Mark Alan Siegel, Palm Beach County Democratic chairman
“What should happen? The governor should appoint a caretaker — someone who specifically is there for the year and a half and is not going to seek the job next year.”
— Sid Dinerstein, chairman, Palm Beach County Republican Party
“We were hoping that Sen. Martinez, the Senate’s only immigrant, would be a voice for comprehensive immigration reform this year -– as he had been in the past. Certainly we would want his replacement to recognize the economic benefits that immigrants bring to Florida and to advocate for sensible fixes to our broken immigration system.”
— Cheryl Little, executive director, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center