Florida Senator Resigns; What Next?

Mel Martinez departs with over a year in his term and some lingering questions.

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Republican Senator of Florida Mel Martinez is resigning office before the end of his term, a move sure to have implications for the Senate and GOP. Political pundits explore what happened and what could--or should--come next.

GOP Base Takes Another Victim  Gawker's Alex Pareene, writing that Martinez "pulled a Palin," argued that the Senator was stuck between a rock and a hard place. "Martinez is not very popular in Florida, because he's too conservative, and he's not very popular among Republicans in the Senate, because he's unable to vote to kick the Mexicans out or against Wise Latinas," he wrote. Michelle Malkin decried his immigration policies as "Shamnesty."

David Weigel of the Washington Independent wrote that Martinez "took a lot of heat from the GOP base." Weigel ran through the cases of the Senator bucking orthodoxy, concluding, "it seems like the problem is less Martinez's sensitivity and more the GOP base's demand for ideological purity."

Opening for Crist?  The Miami Herald's Naked Politics blog wondered if Florida Governor Charlie Crist would copy disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's move to appoint himself to the Senate. "Crist has a similar golden opporunity. Except this is about ambition. He can appoint himself. Will he?" Marc Ambinder says no.

Red State's Erick Erickson also speculated that Crist, who is expected to run for Martinez's seat next year, will exploit the opening. "What will Crist do to screw Rubio?" he asked, referring to the conservative Republican challenging Crist. "Wouldn't put anything past him."

Ideas for Replacements  John Cole of Balloon Juice suggested that "the honorable thing would be to appoint Marco Rubio." Ed Morrissey of Hot Air made the case for appointing former governor Jeb Bush. The National Review's Jim Geraghty passed along rumors that Crist may tap George Martinez, another former governor who is not related to the departing senator. "They'll barely have to change the office sign," he quipped.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.