WaPo: Mel Martinez won't run again in 2010

He wants “more free time and a less scheduled life,” which, given his approval rating, is probably what he would have ended up with anyway.

I wonder how the GOP base will greet the news.

Martinez’s decision was based on a desire for more free time and a less scheduled life, said the source. The first term senator also was an almost certain Democratic target in two years time although those familiar with Martinez’s political prospects insisted his strengths in South Florida, coupled with his political base along the I-4 corridor, made his path to reelection possible…

On the Republican side, there may well be a push to recruit former Gov. Jeb Bush into the contest although that seems like a long shot. State Attorney General Bill McCollum will almost certainly be mentioned as will state Senate President Jeff Atwater and former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Rep. Vern Buchanan may also consider a run…

President-elect Barack Obama’s victory in Florida last month coupled with Martinez’s ties to the unpopular outgoing president made him a major target for Democrats heading into the 2010 cycle. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month showed 36 percent of Florida voters though Martinez deserved a second term while 38 percent did not — troubling numbers for any incumbent.

He might quit early to let Crist appoint a successor so that his replacement has an incumbency advantage in two years. Who’ll be Maverick’s Florida point man on that looming amnesty deal now? Whoever fills Martinez’s seat, probably: Crist is pro-amnesty himself, and since Obama won Latinos there by 15 percent, expect no resistance from the newbie when comprehensive reform finally hits the floor. Exit question: How do we feel about Jeb? Granted, his rhetoric suggests he wouldn’t buck the Bush family trend on immigration, but as I say, that’ll be true of whoever wins. Time for some redemption for a guy unfairly poisoned by a toxic surname?