Bob Martinez

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Bob Martinez
Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
In office
March 28, 1991 – January 20, 1993
Preceded by William Bennett
Succeeded by Lee P. Brown
40th Governor of Florida
In office
January 6, 1987 – January 8, 1991
Lieutenant Bobby Brantley
Preceded by Wayne Mixson
Succeeded by Lawton Chiles
Mayor of Tampa
In office
October 1, 1979 – July 16, 1986
Preceded by William Poe
Succeeded by Sandra W. Freedman
Personal details
Born Robert Martinez
(1934-12-25) December 25, 1934 (age 81)
Tampa, Florida
Political party Republican (1983–present)
Other political
Democratic (Until 1983)
Spouse(s) Mary Jane (Marino) Martinez
Children Sharon Marie, Robert Alan
Religion Roman Catholicism[citation needed]

Robert "Bob" Martinez (born December 25, 1934) was the 40th Governor of Florida from 1987 to 1991;[1] he was the first person of Spanish ancestry to be elected to the state's top office. Prior to that, he was the mayor of Tampa from 1979 to 1986.

Education and early career[edit]

The grandson of Spanish immigrants, from Asturias, Martinez was born in Tampa, Florida. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tampa and went on to earn a masters in labor and industrial relations from the University of Illinois in 1964. Then he returned to Tampa and became a business labor consultant and an economics instructor at the University of Tampa.


In 1965, Martinez was named the executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (HCTA), the local teachers' union in Hillsborough County.[2] In 1968, the HCTA joined the Florida Education Association's statewide teacher strike in support of more education funding and collective bargaining rights for teachers. Though the labor action was seemingly unsuccessful in the short term, its goals were gradually met over the following few years through court and legislative actions. In 1971, Martinez and the HCTA negotiated the first union contract for Hillsborough County teachers.[3]

Political career[edit]

In 1974, Martinez unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Tampa against William "Bill" Poe. He resigned as executive director of the HCTA in 1975 and was appointed vice chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District by Florida Governor Reubin Askew. He also ran his family's restaurant in West Tampa.[4]

Mayor of Tampa[edit]

Martinez campaigned for mayor against Poe again in 1979 and won.[4] During Martinez's term of office, the city built one of America's first waste-to-energy plants, opened a large performing arts center and a modern convention center, completely reconstructed Lowry Park Zoo, restored the 1915 City Hall building, and annexed thousands of acres of unincorporated land northeast of town that would become the neighborhood of New Tampa.

Although the mayor's office is nonpartisan, Martinez was known to be a Democrat. However, in 1983, he changed his affiliation to Republican. In 1986, he resigned as mayor to run for governor. He defeated fellow Republican former U.S. Representative Louis Frey, Jr., of Winter Park for the gubernatorial nomination. He then won the general election, having become only the second Republican elected to that office since Reconstruction and the first (and thus far, only) Hispanic to serve as governor of Florida. Martinez was inaugurated on January 6, 1987.

Governor of Florida[edit]

As governor, Martinez initiated America's largest environmental land acquisition program, Preservation 2000. He proposed the Surface Water Improvement Management act that protects Florida’s surface waters, including Lake Okeechobee, Tampa Bay, Lake Jackson, the Kissimmee River, and other areas. He helped get Florida's first solid waste management law passed and implemented Florida's Growth Management Act. He was an advocate of laws and rules that protected manatees and dolphins. He aggressively sought to eliminate wasteful spending projects sponsored by members of the legislature, and increased spending on the state’s drug control programs. For a time, Martinez was regarded as a "rising star" in Republican politics.

In 1987, following the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger the previous year, Martinez appointed a number of aerospace industry and community leaders to the "Florida Governor's Commission on Space." This concept was undertaken by Stephen Lee Morgan, vice chairman and executive director of the Florida Space Business Roundtable, Inc., a non-profit organization of Central Florida aerospace industry executives. Martinez appointed Martin Marietta executive A. Thomas Young as chairman of the Commission, with then-Florida Secretary of Commerce Jeb Bush (later Governor of Florida himself), as vice chairman. The Commission was widely hailed as a leader in the arena of state-sponsored economic development initiatives in the aerospace industry, and led to the establishment of the Spaceport Florida Authority, following the release of its formal report, "Steps to the Stars" in 1988 (drafted under the direction of the Florida Department of Commerce's Dr. Chris Shove). While now defunct, the Florida Spaceport Authority did orchestrate several commercial launches from unused launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, Florida, including America's return to the moon with an unmanned orbiting vehicle aboard a Lockheed Martin rocket, the Athena (then called the "Lockheed Launch Vehicle" or "LLV"). The Authority was succeeded by an organization known as "Space Florida." The purpose of the Commission was to identify approaches and specific actions which the State might take to mitigate Florida's reliance on the Space Shuttle program as an employer in the space industry. Results were mixed, with some successes and a number of programs which bore little fruit.

Struggles and controversy[edit]

Martinez hit a bump in the political road. In order to raise more revenue for the state, the Florida legislature passed a sales tax on services with Martinez's support.[5] The response from Floridians was strongly negative, so only two months after the tax went into effect, Martinez called the legislature back for a special session to repeal it.[6]

Though the tax was repealed[7] and replaced by a traditional sales tax on goods, the perceived flip-flop on the issue seriously hurt the governor's credibility among Floridians and reduced his ability to get his initiatives enacted.[5]

Two years later, in 1989, after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states greater flexibility to restrict abortions, Martinez called the Florida Legislature into special session in an effort to pass pro-life laws. None of the governor's proposals made it out of committee and his approval ratings sank to around 24%. Also in that year, Martinez vowed to "clear Death Row" and signed over 90 death warrants,[8] some of which did not pass all state and federal appeals. In 1990, TIME magazine referred to Martinez as "embattled" as he authorized a statewide television advertisement campaign boasting his deeds, which were largely unpopular.[8]

In 1989, Martinez ordered state prosecutors to determine whether Miami-area rappers 2 Live Crew's album Nasty as They Wanna Be violated Florida obscenity laws. As a result, record store owners were arrested for selling the album and members of the group were arrested after a concert.[9]

All arrested parties were eventually acquitted. On Banned in the USA, their follow-up album, 2 Live Crew included a song entitled Fuck Martinez.[10]

In 1990, Martinez was defeated in a landslide by former Democratic United States Senator Lawton Chiles.

Post elected-office[edit]

After leaving the governor's office on January 8, 1991, Martinez was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the cabinet rank position of Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (or "Drug Czar") where he served until January 20, 1993.

Since then, Martinez has served as a consultant to Florida-based businesses and law firms[11] and is a political analyst for Bay News 9 television. He is a trustee of the University of Tampa, and a director of the Hillsborough Education Foundation, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo and the Tampa Bay History Center, all local nonprofit groups involved in some way with education.


  1. ^ Robert (Bob) Martinez at the Wayback Machine (archived December 1, 2007) Florida governors mansion
  2. ^ Hillsborough: He found his voice speaking for teachers. Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  3. ^ State: Once mighty teacher union's influence on wane. Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  4. ^ a b "Martinez Elected Mayor of Tampa" - St. Pete Times, Sep. 5, 1979
  5. ^ a b State Income Tax: Why It Won't Happen In Florida at the Wayback Machine (archived June 27, 2009). June 10, 2007
  6. ^ Governor Acts to End Florida Tax –. New York Times (1987-09-19). Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  7. ^ Tax Repeal Is Passed In Florida –. New York Times (1987-12-10). Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  8. ^ a b Lacayo, Richard. (1990-04-02) TIME – The Politics of Life and Death – 1990. Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  9. ^ NY Times article on obscenity controversy. New York Times (1990-10-17). Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  10. ^ lyrics. Retrieved on 2011-11-15.
  11. ^ Flsenate Archive: Welcome :. Retrieved on 2011-11-15.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William "Bill" Poe
Mayor of Tampa, Florida
October 1, 1979 – July 16, 1986
Succeeded by
Sandra Freedman
Preceded by
Wayne Mixson
Governor of Florida
January 6, 1987 – January 8, 1991
Succeeded by
Lawton Chiles
Preceded by
William Bennett
Director of the National Drug Control Policy
March 28, 1991 – January 20, 1993
Succeeded by
Lee P. Brown
Party political offices
Preceded by
Louis A. "Skip" Bafalis
Republican Party Nominee for Governor of Florida
1986 (won), 1990 (lost)
Succeeded by
Jeb Bush