Candidate U.S. Senate (R-FL)
Mel Martinez was the nation's 12th Housing and Urban Development Secretary. After serving three years as the HUD Secretary, Martinez returned to Florida to seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2004.
Prior to serving as Secretary of HUD, Martinez was the first popularly elected Republican to serve as Orange County Chairman. Elected in 1998 with over 60% of the vote against a popular State Senator, Martinez quickly earned a reputation as a bold leader, a tax-cutter, and a champion of law enforcement and education.
Martinez came to Florida from his native Cuba at age 15 as a part of "Operation Peter Pan," a humanitarian program led by the Catholic Church that helped over 14,000 Cuban children escape Communist Cuba. He graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee where he worked his way through school and earned his undergraduate and law degrees. Martinez believes that hard work and contributions of millions of legal immigrants are an important part of America's history. However, he believes that our immigration policy must first and foremost ensure the security of our great nation and its citizens. While opposing blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, Martinez supports a plan that matches workers with needy employers as temporary means of asylum.
Prev. Occupation: Housing and Urban Development Secretary.
Prev. Political Exp.: Orange County Chairman
Education: BA/JD Florida State University