by Steven Ertelt
November 13, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Republican Party has named a Hispanic pro-life member of the U.S. Senate as its national chairman. GOP leaders said Monday that Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida will serve as the leading spokesman and organizer of the party following its defeat in the 2006 Congressional elections.
Martinez will remain in the Senate and assume his new responsibilities in January. He replaces the departing Ken Mehlman, whose term expires then.
In the Senate, Martinez has been a strong pro-life advocate, earning a 100 percent pro-life voting record from the National Right to Life Committee.
Martinez has repeatedly voted against abortion and abortion funding, forcing taxpayers to pay for embryonic stem cell research and he supported allowing Terri Schiavo’s parents to take their lawsuit to prevent her euthanasia death to federal courts for a review.
"Mel Martinez is a dedicated pro-life advocate with a heart for unborn children," Rai Rojas, NRLC’s director of Hispanic outreach who has known Martinez for years, told LifeNews.com. "He will help keep the Republican Party pro-life."
The move has strong implications for the 2008 presidential elections as Martinez can help the party reach out to Hispanic voters, who are overwhelmingly pro-life but voted in larger percentages for Democrats last week.
Post election polling found Hispanics backed Democrats by a 69 to 30 margin — a decline from when President Bush got 40 percent of the Latino vote in 2004.
Martinez also hails from a state that decided the 2000 presidential race and figures to be a top target in 2008.
As the chairman of the party, he would also be its leading public figure going into the presidential primaries and lead the national convention where the party will nominate the candidate it hopes will replace President Bush.
Martinez served as Bush’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 until 2003 when he ran for the Senate.