Outgoing Martinez: I'm No One's Seat Warmer

Republican Mel will resign a year early

Names have already started to come out of the woodwork just hours after Sen. Mel Martinez revealed that he would be resigning from his seat before his term ended in 2010.

Former Sen. Connie Mack, former Gov. Bob Martinez and former Secretary of State Jim Smith have all been mentioned as possible replacements for Martinez. Gov. Charlie Crist, who himself is running for the Senate seat in 2010, has already said he is resisting temptation and will not appoint himself.

Smith wasted little time jumping to the front of the eager replacements list by publicly stating he would love the job.

"I'd go tomorrow," Smith, 69, said in a telephone interview from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he was vacationing. "It would be a great way to end a public career."

Expect Crist to receive a bunch of bouquets and compliments on his stylish dress as he mulls over the decision. IN fact, he said at a presser that he is already getting calls.

"No decision's been made. There is not a short list. There is not a long list. But I'm getting a lot of calls and recommendations and volunteers," Crist said.

Martinez held a press conference in Orlando to officially announce why he is leaving public life. in it, he said he had kept his promise to not "simply warm a seat" during his tenure in Washington.

"There's no impending reason, it's just my desire to move on," he said. Martinez said the next phase of his life will be in the private
sector, but he didn't have any specific plans.

But in an e-mail to family, friends and supporters on Friday, Martinez  vaguely detailed why he was leaving office.

"My priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country and at this stage in my life, and after nearly twelve years of public service in Florida and Washington, it’s time I return to Florida and my family," he wrote.

Martinez already had said he would not seek re-election, but had fended off rumors that he would give up the seat early. His reasons for doing so were not immediately known.

Don't expect a strong politico with future ambitions to get a favor from Crist.

The replacement will likely be a placeholder who won't run for re-election and get in the way of Crist's Senate conquest.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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