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Quittin' Time For Mel Martinez

Mel Martinez couldn't even be bothered to offer a half-baked excuse -- he's just done being the US Senator from Florida. He had already announced that he wouldn't run for re-election in 2010, which when you think about it is a pretty remarkable thing for a first-term Senator from one of the country's most populous states to do. I mean, you have to go to an awful lot of trouble to win a US Senate seat in a state like Florida, so usually it's something you want to hold onto once you've got it.

Come to think of it, one of the toughest parts of that 2004 race for Martinez was defeating Bill McCollum in the primary -- Martinez had to spent millions in the final days calling McCollum the "darling of the homosexual extremists" to win. And now McCollum appears destined to be the GOP nominee for governor, a seat that Martinez was once known to covet more than the Senate. Could Martinez announce for guv, and give us a rematch? Might he and GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio form a Cuban Dynamic Duo against McCollum and Crist in the primaries?

Perhaps. Or, perhaps Martinez has just not had a lot of fun watching his fellow Senate Republicans trash the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, solely on the basis of her having suggested that being Hispanic might be in some ways a good thing.

In any event, when Martinez officially checks out of Washington, he will leave the GOP with no Hispanic Senators. The party chased its last remaining Jewish Senator (Arlen Specter) to the other side of the aisle earlier this year, and of course had no black Senators to begin with.

The process toward a purely white, male, Christian caucus continues later this fall, when Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns to concentrate on running for governor. That will leave three women: the Down East Twins and the not-Palin woman from Alaska.

Oh, and if you were thinking that Crist might appoint someone other than an aging white Christian man as the place-filler Senator, I'd have to say don't get your hopes up, based on the names I've seen bandied about.

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