ROBERT “BOB” MARTINEZ was born in Tampa, Florida. He attended the University of Tampa, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He continued his studies at the University of Illinois where he received a master’s degree in employee and industrial relations in 1964. As head of the Tampa teachers’ union in the late 1960s, he led a strike against the city. Within a few years Martinez became mayor of Tampa, a post he occupied from 1979 until his run for governor in 1986. In 1983, during his tenure as Tampa mayor, Martinez switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Elected Governor of Florida in 1986, Martinez continued the environmental protection programs of his Democratic predecessor and created additional protections for Florida’s surface waters, including Lake Okeechobee, Tampa Bay, Lake Jackson, the Kissimmee River, and other areas. He aggressively weeded out what he believed to be wasteful spending projects sponsored by many members of the legislature. The state’s drug control programs received a boost from Martinez. A law to tax services was less successful; the governor at first backed the tax and then withdrew his support. After his term in office, Governor Martinez was appointed by President Bush to be the director of the National Campaign Against Use of Drugs. He now operates an international business consulting firm in his hometown of Tampa.
Florida State Archives holds the official Governor papers of Robert Martinez.
Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1990.