Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), who is ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, disclosed on Friday that he stepping down as senator.

He cited personal reasons for his resignation.

“My priorities have always been my faith, my family and my country and at this stage in my life, and after nearly twelve years of public service in Florida and Washington, it’s time I return to Florida and my family,” he said in a statement to constituents.

The first-term senator will leave the seat as soon as a replacement is appointed, he said. His resignation comes more than a year before his term ends. He already said he would not seek re-election in 2010.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is likely to replace Martinez as the ranking member of the aging committee, said Ashley Glacel, spokeswoman for the committee.  Corker is currently the most senior member of the committee who is not serving as a ranking member of any other committee. That is a requirement for the position, she said.