WASHINGTON – President Bush tapped Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a prominent Hispanic who previously served in the Cabinet, to assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman.
"He's going to be an excellent spokesman for the Republican Party," Bush said Tuesday.
Martinez, 60, will remain in the Senate when he takes the reins of the RNC in January. The first-term senator will be the face of the party, focusing on fundraising, outreach and travel to promote the GOP agenda.
The announcement comes a week after Republicans suffered stinging defeats at the polls, losing control of the House and Senate. The party also lost support of Hispanic voters who had backed Bush two years ago.
Mike Duncan, the RNC's current general counsel and a former party treasurer, will be chairman and will be put in charge of running the everyday operations at the party's Capitol Hill headquarters. His co-chair will be Jo Ann Davidson, who has been No. 2 in the party hierarchy.
The current party chairman, Ken Mehlman, is leaving his post in January at the end of his two-year term.
"Ken Mehlman did a whale of a job as the chairman of the Republican Party," Bush said. "It's been a joy working with him. I appreciate the fact you went to neighborhoods where Republicans have never been."
Mehlman sought out the support of African-Americans in an effort to expand the party.