U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is not the only member of the House leadership to announce his retirement from Congress on Wednesday as a Republican congressman from Florida also said he was not seeking another term.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., part of the House leadership as senior deputy majority whip, said on Wednesday that he will not seek a fifth term.
“It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to serve my community as a member of Congress and I am grateful for the encouragement and input of family, friends, and neighbors over the years. After thoughtful prayer and consideration, my wife Cindy and I decided that I will not seek re-election for a fifth-term in office,” Ross said “I am grateful for this incredible opportunity to serve and I look forward to the next chapter of my life which will include, in some way, continued public service.
“I never viewed this amazing opportunity as a job or a career,” Ross added. “My home has been and will continue to be in Lakeland, Florida. I look forward to returning to the practice of law and to pursuing opportunities to increase civic education for our youth, and young adults, and with that encourage more engagement and participation of future generations in government.”
Ross is a longtime figure in Central Florida politics. In 1982, Ross began work as an aide to Dennis Jones, a longtime Republican legislator then serving in the House. Becoming one of the leading attorneys in Central Florida, including serving as an in-house counsel to Walt Disney World, Ross moved up the local Republican ranks, eventually becoming chairman of the Polk County GOP. After a failed bid for a Florida Senate seat in 1996, Ross was elected to the Florida House in 2000 after Adam Putnam decided to run for Congress.
In 2007, Ross was one of two legislators in Tallahassee who voted against Citizens Property Insurance. Sticking to his free-market principles, Ross argued that the state government shouldn’t be competing with private insurers but his fellow Republicans stripped him of his committee chairmanship.
Despite losing his chairmanship in Tallahassee, Ross bounced back. After facing term limits in 2008, he made plans to run for Congress in 2010, once again following in Putnam’s wake. Ross got in the race early and was able to hold off John Lindsey in the primary. Despite a credible Democratic opponent in Lori Edwards and a threat from the right in Randy Wilkinson running on the tea party line syphoning off conservative support, Ross was elected to Congress.
Last year Ross was tapped as vice chairman of the U.S Housing and Insurance (H&I) Subcommittee which is under the umbrella of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee (FSC). When U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left Congress, Ross looked to move up to House majority whip but he ended his efforts when Ryan too took over as speaker and the rest of the House leadership stayed in place.
The district, which leans Republican, includes the eastern parts of the Tampa Bay area and much of Polk County. Ross joins fellow Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Ron DeSanits who is running for governor, Tom Rooney and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in not running again next year.