Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a native Cuban and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced that he will step down from his Senate seat to pursue a career in the private sector, shocking his Senate colleagues and adding a new twist in the race to replace him.
Martinez, 62, has long insisted that he wouldn’t resign before his term ends in 2011, when he had already planned to retire. But citing personal reasons, the Florida Republican told supporters in Orlando, that he will be resigning after Gov. Charlie Crist names his successor.
“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,” Martinez said.
He added that he was not pressured to step down before his term expired.
“This is a free country. I did this on my own free will. There’s no reason – this is just my desire to move on and get on with the rest of my life,” Martinez said.
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