December 19, 2014

Politics - Florida Newsmakers of the Year

Mel and the Dominoes

Amy Keller | 1/1/2011

• Mel Martinez and the dominoes

Mel Martinez

Sen. Mel Martinez's announcement at the end of 2009 that he would resign early was a personal decision — he had grown weary of the weekly commute between Orlando and Capitol Hill and the prospect of a grueling re-election campaign and desired more time with his family. Ultimately, however, Martinez's decision toppled a long row of political dominoes and reshaped Florida's entire state political landscape during 2010. After Martinez's Senate seat came into play, subsequent decisions by various political players first put the governor's office up for grabs, then two Cabinet seats, then, as more dominoes fell, state legislative offices, heads of state agencies and prosecutors' jobs. The dominoes may keep falling: In 2012, George LeMieux, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill Martinez's seat, likely will seek the other U.S. Senate slot held by Bill Nelson. Meanwhile, the election of Marco Rubio already has some crystal-ball gazers seeing much bigger things ahead for the newly elected senator.

"I didn't really contemplate all of the dominoes that would fall because of my decision," Martinez says. "My decision was very personal; it wasn't
political. But given that, it is interesting when one position opens, political ambition being what it is, people move and gravitate to other opportunities." Martinez now works for JPMorgan Chase & Co. as chairman of Chase Bank's Florida market and operations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. "It really was remarkable what all was unchained by my decision."
Marco RubioMarco Rubio
The former Speaker of the Florida House had been expected to challenge Gov. Charlie Crist when Crist sought a second gubernatorial term. Instead, Rubio, 39, left the law and consulting business he formed to run for the Senate. Rubio's victory has, at least for the moment, given him rock star status and has some positing him as a possible vice presidential nominee in 2012.
Charlie CristCharlie Crist
Crist had been expected to run again for the governor's job — and to win re-election. He jumped into the Senate race, only to find political winds increasingly favoring Rubio. Abandoning the GOP, he ran under no party affiliation. His loss could mark the end of a political career for one of Florida's most resilient politicians.
Bill McCollumBill McCollum
The state's attorney general created a vacancy in the Cabinet when he ran for governor.
Dan GelberDan Gelber
Gelber, a Democratic state senator, decided to run for attorney general.
Pam BondiPam Bondi
Bondi defeated Gelber for attorney general after resigning her position as assistant state attorney in Tampa.
Jeff KottkampJeff Kottkamp
Bondi's primary opponent was lieutenant governor.
Dave AronbergDave Aronberg
Aronberg, about to be term-limited out of the Senate, also sought the attorney general's job, but lost in the Democratic primary.
Holly BensonHolly Benson
Benson lost to Bondi in the GOP primary after leaving her job as secretary of the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Alex SinkAlex Sink
The state's powerful CFO position came open when Sink sought the governor's office
Jeff AtwaterJeff Atwater
The Senate president ran for Sink's post as CFO on the Cabinet and
won.
Loranne AusleyLoranne Ausley
The former state representative and attorney sought the CFO's job unsuccessfully.
Jeff GreeneJeff Greene
Investor Jeff Greene spent millions of his billions to challenge Meek.
Frederica S. WilsonFrederica S. Wilson
State Sen. Frederica S. Wilson, a Democrat, won Meek's congressional seat race.
George LeMieuxGeorge LeMieux
Crist appointed his former chief of staff, an attorney at the Gunster firm, to serve out Martinez's term. LeMieux seized the opportunity and distanced himself enough from Crist to be viable as a candidate to run against Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012.

Business
Mark Wilson
Wilbur Ross Jr.
Lola Gonzalez
John Textor
Robert Clements
Thomas Gaffney
Hugh Green
R.J. Scaringe
Foreclosure Fighters
Julian MacQueen

Politics
Mel Martinez & The Dominoes

Military
Florida's Fallen Soldiers

Education
Frank Brogan
Maryellen Elia

Science/Innovation
Win Phillips & David Day
Ian MacDonald & William Hogarth

Environment
Extreme Temperatures

CRITTERS
Mystery Monkey

Sports
Tampa Bay Rays' Top Brass
Pat Riley

Volunteer/Non-Profit
Barth Green

Arts/Entertainment
New World Symphony
Pitbull
Pamela Tuscany

Dubious Achievers
Scott Rothstein
David Brooks

Jim Greer
Wayne McLeod
Lewis Freeman
Pawl Hawks
Lee Farkas

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Benefits management trends in Florida
Benefits management trends in Florida

David Faulkenberry, president, FBMC Benefits Management, explains what benefits most employers want to offer staff and what impact the ACA has had on public sector clients so far.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

How do you feel about the historic decision to remodel US-Cuba relations?

  • Well, it's about time!
  • I'm cautiously optimistic...
  • I'm skeptical about this at best...
  • Not in favor at all: Keep the embargo strong!

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe