Senator Martinez practiced law until 1998, when he was elected as the Mayor of Orange County, Florida. He served until 2001 when he was confirmed as the Secretary of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in the George W. Bush Administration. In 2004, at the request of President Bush, he returned to Florida to run for an open seat in the United States Senate.
In 2005, Martinez was confirmed as the first Cuban American to be elected to the United States Senate where he served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and the Banking, Commerce & Urban Affairs Committee among others.
In 2010, he joined JPMorgan Chase & Co., as the Chairman of the Southeast US and Latin America until retiring in March 2023. Senator Martinez also serves as a Director for NVR, Inc., Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., and the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2008, he published his biography, A Sense of Belonging: From Castro’s Cuba to the U.S. Senate, One Man’s Pursuit of the American Dream. Senator Martinez and his wife, Kitty, have three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They live in Winter Park, Florida and attend St. James Cathedral in Orlando.