Multiple outlets reported Friday morning that Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., will resign his seat. Politico says Martinez announced his decision at a morning staff meeting, saying he won't return to the Senate after its August recess.
Martinez had already announced that he didn't intend to run for re-election in 2010, and rumors that he would give up his seat now had been flying around, but his staff had previously denied them. There's been no word yet on why he made the decision, or why he made it now.
There's an interesting twist to the situation, though. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will be charged with appointing a replacement to serve out the rest of Martinez's term -- but Crist himself is running for the seat.
Update: Martinez will be making an official announcement at 3 p.m. EDT on Friday. In the meantime, via the Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog, here's a letter he sent out to supporters about his resignation:
Because you’re a friend, I wanted you to know first about the decision I will announce today to step down from public office. Twelve years ago I offered myself as a candidate for public office in Florida out of a deep sense of appreciation for what America and the people of Florida did for me as a young immigrant to this country.
In 1997, Kitty and I decided it was time to give back and we entered the public arena, first as Mayor of Orange County, then as a Member of the President’s cabinet and now as a United States Senator. Through those experiences I have gained the greatest respect for the people of Florida and have enjoyed serving their interests. When I began my term as Senator, I promised I wouldn’t simply warm a seat; I promised to take on the difficult issues and work to make a difference.
Keeping that promise has meant pressing for help and assistance for families struggling to keep their homes, their jobs, and their confidence that our country is safe ....
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.
So today I am announcing my decision to step down from public office, effective on a successor taking office to fill out the remainder of my term. I have enjoyed my time in the Senate and have the utmost respect for my colleagues and the institution. I especially thank Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for his guidance and insight.