Apparently the Palin effect is being felt in the Sunshine State.

So 2 questions come to mind: WHY is he resigning and WHO will replace him?

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R), who had previously announced he would not seek reelection in 2010, has now decided to resign his seat — a move that will allow Gov. Charlie Crist (R) to appoint a replacement to fill the remaining months of Martinez’s term, according to a source familiar with the decision.

The Martinez news, which was first reported by CNN, throws a fascinating wrinkle into the open seat race to replace Martinez.

Crist, as the sitting governor, has the power to appoint a replacement for Martinez — a task complicated by the fact that he is seeking the same Senate seat in 2010. Crist could, theoretically, appoint himself but that seems unlikely as it could spark a voter backlash in a race that Crist is strongly favored to win.

Assuming Crist does not name himself, he is likely to appoint a caretaker who will hold the seat until January 2011 but will not seek the full term. The hot name at the moment to fill the slot is former Gov. Bob Martinez, who spent a single term as the state’s chief executive from 1986 to 1990. Other names mentioned include former Sen. Connie Mack and former Secretary of State Jim Smith.

Democrats seized on the announcement by seeking to paint the Martinez decision as part of a larger issue for the GOP.

“Republicans seem to have a problem fulfilling their oaths of office,” said DSCC communications director Eric Schultz. “Republicans in elected office can’t bolt fast enough apparently. First Sarah Palin quits, then Kelly Ayotte quits, and now Mel Martinez quits. The country faces enormous challenges right now, and voters are watching who is up to the task.”

A third question: WHO will be the next Republican to walk away from the job?




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