Robert Martinez

Robert "Bob" Martinez

Governor Martinez, ca.1987

40th Governor of Florida (1987-1991)


Personal Background:

  • Born December 25, 1934-Tampa, FL
  • First Lady Mary Jane Marino Martinez, married 1954, two children


  • Graduated from Jefferson High School, Tampa, FL
  • Graduated from University of Tampa, Tampa, FL
  • Graduated with Master's Degree from University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

Service to Florida:

Upon graduation from college, the future governor taught American history, worked for the pubic teacher's union, and eventually became a restaurateur, founding Café Sevilla in Tampa, FL. By 1979, Martinez was elected Mayor of Tampa, a position in which he served for seven years. When he was elected governor in 1986, Martinez became the first grandson of Spanish immigrants to become governor of Florida since the colonial period, and only the second Republican governor since Reconstruction.

Most Notable Contributions as Governor:

The Martinez Family, 1987

Like his predecessor, Governor Martinez had a particular interest in environmental issues and built significantly upon the Save the Everglades campaign. He instituted uniform policies to manage and protect Lake Okeechobee, Lake Jackson, Tampa Bay, the St. Johns and Kissimmee Rivers, and the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes. The Wall Street Journal praised his plan to cope with solid waste disposal as "the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation," which ultimately resulted in Florida's first solid waste management law and Florida's Growth Management Act. With Preservation 2000, he spearheaded a decade-long effort to acquire and protect sensitive lands. During his tenure, he appointed future-Governor Jeb Bush to be Florida Secretary of Commerce. For the first time within the century, the Republican party was making notable progress in winning elections in Florida. This new trend came to an abrupt halt in 1992, with the election of his successor, Democratic Senator Lawton Chiles, but re-emerged beginning in 1999 with the two-term election of Republican Governor Jeb Bush, followed in 2006 by Republican Governor Charlie Crist. In 2009, the Florida Department of State honored Governor Matinez as a great Floridian.

For Additional Information:

  • George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
  • First Families in Residence: Life at the Florida Governor's Mansion, by Ellen Uguccioni
  • 700 North Adams Street, by First Lady Rhea Chiles
    and the Florida Governor's Mansion Foundation, Inc.