CNN is reporting that later today Republican Senator Mel Martinez of Florida will resign his seat. No word on why, but the senator has previously stated his intention to retire from the Senate after serving just one term. Previously Senator Martinez served in the Bush administration as the HUD Secretary.
This resignation creates a bit of a conundrum for Republican Governor Charlie Crist. The governor has announced that he will run for his party’s nomination in the 2010 Senate election. The only problem is that he will have to appoint a temporary replace until the election is held in 2010.
There are several reasons why this complicates things for Governor Crist. For one if he nominates someone that does not agree beforehand to not run for re-election, they automatically become the chief rival to Crist as he seeks the same sit that he is forced to fill.
The second pitfall is if he chooses to appoint himself it could weaken his chances at winning the November 2010 election – or even the primary. As a senator Crist would have to vote on a number of potentially controversial measures. Healthcare reform comes to mind most clearly. Does he work with Democrats to pass Obama’s agenda or does he side with other obstructionist do-nothing Republicans?
A vote in favor of healthcare reform would almost certainly doom his chances of winning the Republican nomination against his more conservative challenger Florida Speaker Marco Rubio. A vote against would give Democrats an election year issue to run against him on, among potentially many others. Being in the majority allows Senate Democrats to force votes that might not go over too well in the Sunshine State. Either way, Martinez’s move is not something that is likely to make Charlie Crist very happy.