|Former U.S. Senator from Florida|
From: January 3, 2005-September 10, 2009
|12th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development|
From: January 24, 2001 – December 13, 2003
|President||George W. Bush|
Melquíades Rafael "Mel" Martínez, born October 23, 1946 (age 72), is a Cuban-American, who in September 2009 resigned his seat as the junior United States Senator from Florida. he was the former General Chairman of the Republican Party. Previously, Martinez served as the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush. Martinez is Catholic.
Martinez was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, to Gladys V. Ruiz and Melquiades C. Martinez. He came to the United States in 1962 as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort called Operation Peter Pan, which brought into the U.S. more than 14,000 children. Not knowing a word of English, Martinez learned the language, earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University, and went on to practice law for 25 years.
In 1994, Martinez ran for Lieutenant Governor of Florida. He teamed up with former Family Research Council President Ken Connor, who was the gubernatorial candidate. The Connor/Martinez ticket was defeated in the Republican primary, finishing fifth with 83,945 votes, or 9.31% of the vote. Martinez was the elected Chairman of Orange County, Florida, and served on the Governor's Growth Management Study Commission. He previously served as President of the Orlando Utilities Commission, on the board of directors of a community bank, and as Chairman of the Orlando Housing Authority. In 2000, Martinez was selected as the co-chairman of George W. Bush's 2000 Presidential campaign in Florida. Bush carried Florida by under 400 votes after intense controversy and thus became president.
In November 2004, Martinez was elected to the United States Senate in Florida. Sen. Martinez announced in August 2009 that he will resign from the Senate.
Martinez is morally opposed to abortion even in case of rape or incest. He supports education to reduce abortions, and supports the promotion of alternatives such as adoption. From 2007-2008 he received a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. In a debate moderated by Tim Russert, Martinez stated the following on Roe v. Wade:
"The bottom line is I don't plan on prosecuting anyone. When I go to the United States Senate, I'm going to be confirming judges who will go to the courts, and the courts will deal with the issue. This is not up for a vote by the United States Senate." Adding, "We're far from prosecuting people in this country over that issue."
Right to Life
Martinez was one of the authors of the Palm Sunday Compromise, which allowed the federal government to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case in order to prevent her death by dehydration.
Supports the Bush Doctrine, but has asserted that the U.S. erred in hastily dismantling the Iraqi Army.
Mel Martinez says he's against amnesty for Illegal aliens, However, he helped craft a bill that would be referred to by much of his own party, as "amnesty." On June 28, 2007 he would later vote for an immigration bill he helped form with other Senate leaders that would allow many illegal immigrants to become citizens and provide stronger border security. The bill was defeated through being denied cloture on the Senate floor. Approximately 80% of his Republican base vehemently opposed to the bill.
In November 2006, Martinez was named general chairman of the Republican Party for the 2007–2008 election cycle (Mike Duncan will handle the day-to-day operations). Many conservatives objected to Martinez's selection, citing his position on immigration. He would later step down.