FLORIDA’S MARTINEZ TO RETIRE AFTER ONE TERM…. Democratic Party strategists have already begun plans for the 2010 cycle, and near the top of the list of targets is Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R). The former HUD Secretary and RNC Chairman has been something of a hapless, ineffective lawmaker, and his approval ratings have dipped well below the 50% threshold, which usually spells trouble for an incumbent.

Martinez looked ahead and didn’t like what he saw. Multiple sources indicate today that he will not seek re-election. The St. Petersburg Times noted the news briefly this morning, and the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza added this report soon after.

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R) has decided against seeking a second term, a decision he will formalize shortly in the Sunshine State, according to an informed party source.

Martinez’s decision was based on a desire for more free time and a less scheduled life, said the source.

Just yesterday, State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, widely considered the Democrats’ strongest candidate for the race, said she would not run for the Senate, but that was before Martinez’s announcement. Reps. Ron Klein, Allen Boyd, Robert Wexler, and Kendrick Meek, as well as state Sen. Dan Gelber, have all also been rumored as possible Democratic candidates, and with Martinez retiring, the field is likely to be quite large.

Leading Republican candidates are likely to include State Attorney General Bill McCollum and former state House speaker Marco Rubio. Party leaders will also no doubt reach out to Jeb Bush.

Just this morning, the Politico’s Josh Kraushaar reported that Martinez would face real difficulties in a re-election bid, with polls showing most Floridians believing he doesn’t deserve a second term. Apparently, he saw the writing on the wall.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.