Gov. Charlie Crist flew to Miami Tuesday afternoon to vet former U.S. Attorney Roberto Martinez for a U.S. Senate appointment, less than 24 hours after U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart took himself off the short list.
Crist and Martinez, a close confidant who helped oversee the governor's transition into office, talked for about 45 minutes at the Signature Flight building near Miami International Airport.
Late Tuesday, Crist announced he would interview Jacksonville state Rep. Jennifer Carroll and University of North Florida President John Delaney on Wednesday, both in Jacksonville.
The rapid-fire news of Diaz-Balart's withdrawal and Crist's trips to Miami and Jacksonville reflected Florida's mercurial political climate since U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez announced his early retirement. Names of potential contenders surface and are batted down in a matter of hours. And it's all happening at the same time Crist is running for the job himself, ensuring that candidates are viewed in terms of the political boosts or pitfalls they might bring to the governor's Senate campaign.
Martinez is a well-respected attorney born in Cuba, potentially raising Crist's profile in the Hispanic community. But he's a law-and-order Republican whose avoidance of partisan politics does little to shore up Crist's conservative credentials. Martinez has given dozens of campaign contributions to Republicans but also a handful to Democratic Senate candidates.
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