Florida Senator Mel Martinez Resigning

A number of news services are reporting that the already retiring US Senator from Florida, Mel Martinez, is to resign post the August recess. Here's the story from the Miami Herald:

Sen. Mel Martinez told friends and supporters Friday in an e-mail that he'll step down from the Senate as soon as a replacement is appointed to fill out his term.

``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,'' said Martinez, who had already ruled out a run for re-election in 2010.

In an extraordinary turn of events, Gov. Charlie Crist, the leading Republican to replace Martinez in the U.S. Senate, will have the power to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Martinez's term.

Crist has denied that he'd appoint himself. He's expected to make an announcement on a fill-in before the end of the August recess when the Senate returns to Washington. Some names already surfacing: former Sen. Connie Mack, former Gov. Bob Martinez and former Secretary of State Jim Smith.

Some speculate that Crist might step down as governor, thereby elevating Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who could then appoint Crist to the Senate.

Crist will hold an already scheduled press conference at 2:30 p.m. Martinez will be available for a 3 p.m. press conference.

It is as the article suggests a rather extraordinary turn of events. It does seem to complicate the political ambitions of Governor Crist, or does it?

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Only the Margin is in Doubt

There was never any real doubt that Sonia Sotomayor would be confirmed as the nation's 111th Supreme Court Justice. Only the margin of confirmation was in doubt. How many Republicans would vote to confirm? That question is beginning to get answered late this week after Judge Sotomayor breezed through her confirmation hearings. Late today came word that GOP Senators Dick Lugar of Indiana, Mel Martinez of Florida and Olympia Snowe of Maine would vote to confirm. Not surprising, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote against confirmation. More from the New York Times:

OP Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the Senate's most senior Republican, Mel Martinez of Florida, its lone Hispanic Republican, and Olympia Snowe of Maine all announced they'd vote for Sotomayor, praising her qualifications and her testimony at four days of Judiciary Committee hearings this week.

''I was pleased that Judge Sotomayor repeatedly recognized in her responses this week that 'the job of a judge is to apply the law' rather than independently make policy, and that it is the law, rather than one's own sympathies that 'compels conclusions in cases,' '' Snowe said in a statement.

McConnell planned a speech Monday in which he'll say the 55-year-old appeals court judge's past statements demonstrate an ''alarming lack of respect for the notion of equal justice,'' and question her ability to separate her sympathies and prejudices from her decisions.

McConnell joins other GOP conservatives who are lining up firmly against Sotomayor, including Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, who announced Friday that he'll vote no, citing her position on gun rights and comments he said indicate ''a tendency toward judicial activism.'' But with solid backing from Democrats, who enjoy a lopsided majority, and a growing number of Republicans, there's virtually no doubt the judge will be confirmed as the 111th Supreme Court justice.

Republicans have said they won't try to block or even delay a vote to confirm her, which is expected in early August.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that neither he nor any GOP senator he knows of is interested in holding up the vote. The panel is likely to cast the first votes on Sotomayor's nomination in late July, although Democrats were pushing for a committee vote as soon as Tuesday.

The sooner the better.

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