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Mel Martinez (R)
Date Of Birth & Birthplace: 10/23/1946 (Sagua La Grande)
Race: White
Hispanic: Yes
Religion: Catholic
Residence: Orlando, FL
Education: BA from Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL; JD in Law from Florida State University College of Law, Tallahassee, FL
Occupation: Lawyer
Office Type: U.S. Senate -- Florida  

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Mel Martinez was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, but fled the country in 1962 as a 15-year-old. His parents remained on the communist island hoping one day to join him.

He eventually was placed with a foster family in Orlando, studied hard to learn English and worked odd jobs that helped him buy his father a used car when his parents arrived in the United States four years later.

He put himself through college and earned a law degree, made millions as a trial lawyer, and served as president of the Orlando Utilities Commission from 1994 to 1997. He was elected as the Orange County, Fla., chairman, serving from 1998 to 2001.

President Bush picked him to serve on in the Cabinet as Housing and Urban Development secretary in 2001. He resigned in 2003 to run for the open Senate seat created when incumbent Sen. Bob Graham decided not to seek another term.

He and his with, Kitty, have three children.

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Mel Martinez served as the Orange County, Fla., chairman from 1998 to 2001.

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