Commentary: Martinez to leave Senate

This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.

Even before Sen. Mel Martinez announced that he would forgo reelection in 2010 after only one term, aspirants for his seat began popping up all over the state. You don't have to be a political junkie to get excited about the sudden prospect of a race for an open Senate seat, but first take a moment to appreciate this surprise move.

Most politicians cling to power like a drowning man clings to a life preserver. Witness 85-year-old Ted Stevens of Alaska, who stubbornly tried to keep his Senate seat this year despite a recent felony conviction, having already spent four decades in Congress. For many, the power of office becomes an end in itself.

Sen. Martinez, a Republican, has chosen another way. We take him at his word that he wants to spend more time with family rather than stay in office. That line is usually heard from someone snagged in a scandal, but Mr. Martinez has been scandal-free.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.