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Antigay Martinez
will share leadership of Republican Party

Antigay Martinez
will share leadership of Republican Party

Mel_martinez

Mel Martinez, a notoriously antigay U.S. senator from Florida who previously served in President Bush's cabinet, will assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman.

Mel Martinez, a notoriously antigay U.S. senator from Florida who previously served in President Bush's cabinet, will assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman, GOP officials said Monday.

"Senator Martinez was elected in 2004 by taking page 1 out of Karl Rove's gay-baiting playbook," said Joe Solmonese, president of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign. "His campaign was one of the most antigay, bigoted, and divisive campaigns in the nation's history. We are deeply troubled that this kind of senator has been chosen to lead the Republican Party."

Martinez, 60, will remain in the Senate when he takes the reins of the RNC in January, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid preempting a formal announcement. The first-term senator will be the face of the party, focusing on fund-raising, outreach, and travel to promote the GOP agenda.

At the same time, Mike Duncan, the RNC's current general counsel and a former party treasurer, will be named chairman and will be put in charge of running the everyday operations at the party's Capitol Hill headquarters, the officials said. The current party chairman, Ken Mehlman, is leaving his post in January at the end of his two-year term.

As a team, Martinez and Duncan will be responsible for leading the RNC during Bush's final two years in office and throughout the 2008 presidential election cycle.

"For [Martinez] to be tapped as the head of the Republican Party sends yet another message to our community and the country that the Republican leadership is continuing their old ways of rewarding slash-and-burn politics instead of being interested in uniting the country," Solmonese concluded.

the HRC issued a statement outlining Martinez's record on equality and fairness:

- He scored a 0 on the Human Rights Campaign 2006 scorecard measuring support for equality and fairness in the 109th Congress.

- He is an ardent supporter and cosponsor of the antigay Federal Marriage Amendment.

- Martinez has been on the record opposing Republican senator John McCain's states' rights stance on the marriage issue, saying, "It isn't good enough to say, 'Leave it up to the states. If we leave it up to the states, we will see the erosion of marriage that we've seen by activist courts, which we otherwise will not see if we protect the institution of marriage at the federal level."

- He attacked his 2004 Republican primary opponent for supporting hate-crimes legislation, accusing him of catering to the "radical homosexual lobby."

- He ran a 2004 campaign that was so antigay and divisive that Florida governor Jeb Bush called on him to stop the attacks. As a result of his tactics, the St. Petersburg Times revoked its endorsement after Martinez sent a mailer against his opponent calling him "the new darling of the homosexual extremists." (AP contributed to this report)

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