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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mel Martinez is resigning



MartinezU.S. Sen. Mel Martinez is stepping down, possibly in September. He announced the news to his staff this morning and has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference in Orlando, GOP officials say.

Martinez, the first Cuban American in the U.S. Senate, has already said he would not seek re-election in 2010, which has prompted a primary battle between Republican Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio. The Democratic candidate is U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Crist would have to pick a temporary replacement for Martinez, adding another layer of intrigue into an already highly-watched race.

Speculation has been flying about an early departure but Martinez's camp has demurred. "A number of rumors have surfaced from Tallahassee in the months following the senator's retirement announcement. What he has said consistently is that no announcement is pending and that still applies," spokesman Ken Lundberg said last week.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:56pm]


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