From the Miami Herald:
TALLAHASSEE — 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.
I haven’t read much more than just what’s in the Herald, but my gut tells me that Martinez probably wants out just because he’s tired of the shit.
As for Charlie Crist, if he follows the precedent set by Wendell Anderson in Minnesota in 1976, he’s asking for oblivion. Gov. Anderson had been hankering after the Senate for a while, and when Walter Mondale, then a senator from Minnesota, became Jimmy Carter’s vice president, Anderson resigned so that his Lt. Governor Rudy Perpich, now Gov. Perpich, could then appoint him to Mondale’s seat. It screamed of opportunism, and Anderson lost his bid for election for re-election in 1978 to plywood king Rudy Boschwitz. Charlie Crist may have his flaws, but I don’t think he’s that craven.
I would be really surprised if he appointed someone prominent like Jeb Bush, or someone with ambitions for the full term; perhaps someone retired and basically bland like Clay Shaw. That would keep the race in 2010 open so that he could win the seat in an election and confer an aura of legitimacy on his term.