6. Mel Martinez « The Washington Independent
Sen. Martinez’s (R-Fla.) political future looked dim in December 2008 when he announced he would not seek re-election in 2010. Things had been rocky for the senator for several years. In 2006, he was elected chair of the Republican National Committee, but less than a year into his tenure, Martinez was pressured to resign from the post after repeated clashes with social conservatives over immigration policy. Martinez was expected to face a difficult reelection in 2010, which outsiders speculated contributed to his decision to retire. But Martinez didn’t wait until January to leave town. On Aug. 7, 2009, late on a Friday, Martinez announced his he would resign instead of retire, leaving Republicans to scramble to find a mid-session replacement.