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Florida: Martinez Says Crist Likely to Run in 2010

Retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R) said this week that there’s a strong likelihood Gov. Charlie Crist (R) will run for his open Senate seat in 2010 and added that if that does happen, he is not interested in trading jobs with Crist.

Martinez said Crist would be “a fine Senator.— When asked whether he has any desire to seek the top job in Tallahassee, Martinez said he has the private sector in his sights after he leaves the Senate. He will have served only one Senate term, but he came to Capitol Hill after serving in the administration of President George W. Bush.

“I think there’s going to be a real scramble for the governorship, but I don’t think I’m on the short list,— Martinez said.

A Republican source familiar with Martinez’s plans backed up that assertion, offering that the Senator has no interest in running for governor and is looking to land in the private sector so he can make more money than his Congressional salary provides.

Republicans familiar with Florida politics expect Crist to announce for Senate at some point after the state legislative session concludes. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 1, but that could be delayed because of disagreements over the budget.

Crist may not have a clear primary field if he does run for Senate. Former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R) has indicated he might stay in the race even if the governor jumps in. The GOP gubernatorial primary would be a free-for-all if Crist does decide to leave Tallahassee. Among those considered likely to run in an open-seat race is Rep. Vern Buchanan (R).

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