Martinez elected general chairman of GOP
Published: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 11:27 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Over a smattering of opposition, Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida was elected Friday as general chairman of the Republican Party.
Mike Duncan of Kentucky was chosen to be the Republican National Committee's chairman, and will be in charge of the party's day-to-day operations.
Martinez, 60, a native of Cuba, is the first Hispanic to hold the largely honorary position.
A handful of delegates, including some from Texas, objected to his selection because of his past support for legislation that would have allowed some illegal immigrants to obtain legal status, and possibly citizenship.
Some delegates also objected to Martinez's past history as head of the Florida trial lawyers. Republicans have generally supported tort reforms that would reduce the impact of class-action and malpractice suits.
But Martinez was praised in a nominating speech by Florida National Committeewoman Sharon Day as "someone who doesn't just talk the Republican talk, but walks the Republican walk."
Martinez's selection was an overt acknowledgement of the GOP's efforts to reach out to minority populations.
"To be the party of the future means that we also have to be a party that opens the door wide so that all Americans feel welcome," Martinez said in his acceptance speech.
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