Sen. Mel Martinez, the Florida Republican, plans to give up his seat now, instead of at the end of his term, opening up a new round of political intrigue, now that would-be senator Gov. Charlie Crist, also a Republican, has the power to appoint a successor.
With his appointment, whether it's himself or a political placeholder, Florida has the chance to improve on its record of environmental stewardship. Crist has championed Everglades restoration (though he's been hampered by budgetary problems), green jobs and even climate change action -- putting him in the league of Republican governors with moderate, if not progressive, stances toward environmental protection.
The same can't be said for Sen. Martinez, a past member in the dubious Dirty Dozen politicians with the worst voting records, as judged by the League of Conservation Voters. He's a proponent of offshore drilling, and between 2005 and 2008, voted for fewer than 20% of the bills that the League of Conservation Voters championed.
He scored similarly in scorecards published by Republicans for Environmental Protection, achieving a disappointing 15 out of 100 between 2005 and 2007. Martinez did, however, win recognition from Republicans for Environmental Protection in 2007 for "blocking an amendment filed by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Larry Craig (R-ID) that would have allowed U.S. companies to bid on oil and gas leases in Cuban territorial waters that extend within 45 miles of the Florida coast."
Who will replace Mel Martinez? Hopefully someone who votes in favor of the environment more often.
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