Florida senator says final goodbye

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., delivered his final speech on the senate floor Wednesday morning after deciding last month that he would be leaving before the end of his term.

Martinez originally announced that he would not seek a second term as senator in December 2008.

During his speech, Martinez reflected on his time as senator, calling it “a culmination of an unlikely journey, from his birth in Cuba to the opportunity to be in a hall of the most cherished institution of democracy in the …world.”

Martinez acknowledged that one of the single most honors has been working with the men and women that serve in our armed forces.

Martinez acknowledged the Cuban-American community of Florida who he said instilled both their faith and pride in him as senator.

“I am appreciative of the pride that we share together and what we are and what we have accomplished,” he said. “Your support has touched my heart and I will always carry that with me.”

Gov. Charlie Crist announced that George LeMieux, R-Fla., would be the successor for Martinez. LeMieux is the former chief of staff for Governor Crist.

LeMieux was sworn in next Thursday by Vice President Joe Biden to finish out the term, but said he would not seek to be elected back to the seat in the 2010 election.

Crist and former State House Speaker Marco Rubio R-Fla., are both planning on running for the seat in the 2010 election.