Florida Republican Dennis Ross, part of the congressional leadership as senior deputy majority whip, announced on Monday he will undergo heart surgery.
Ross is having surgery to repair a common bicuspid aortic valve birth defect in an Orlando hospital. If left untreated, this defect could lead be life threatening.
“Upon informing some of my family and friends of my scheduled surgery, many were surprised that as a lawyer and politician I even had a heart,” Ross said on Monday. “Fortunately, my doctors told me I have a good heart, and I just need a new valve and a little ‘re-piping.’
“I have been living with this very common defect since I was born, and I have still lived a healthy, normal and fulfilled life,” Ross added. “This surgery is routine maintenance with a full recovery expected. I want to thank all of those who have sent their kind and encouraging words and prayers my way. It means the world to Cindy, my boys and me. I am already geared up and excited to get back to work and continue representing the great folks of Florida’s 15th Congressional District.”
Ross has been moving up the political ladder in Polk County for decades. A former aide to state Sen. Dennis Jones, Ross led the Polk County GOP before making an unsuccessful state Senate bid in 1996. When state Rep. Adam Putnam jumped in the race for Congress in 2000, Ross ran for the open Florida House seat, winning it and serving four terms until being term limited in 2008. In 2010, Ross ran for Congress, once again replacing Putnam who successfully ran for state agriculture commissioner.
Last year, in the aftermath of then-U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announcing his resignation, Ross looked to move up the Republican ranks, running for the U.S. House majority whip post. But, with U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., failing to become speaker, Ross and other contenders had to scrap their efforts.
Ross doesn’t have an open shot at returning to Congress though he doesn’t have a primary to worry about at the end of the month. Businessman and activist Jim Lange, the founder of the Haiti Recovery and Development Company (HR&DC), is running for the Democratic nomination.
Democrats have a slight registration edge in this district but Mitt Romney beat out President Barack Obama in 2012 here by 6 percent.