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Congressman Dennis Ross To Retire


House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't the only longterm politician who is calling it quits.  Congressman Dennis Ross announced Tuesday he's ready to retire.

Ross has represented Florida's 15 Congressional District since 2013; and the 12th Congressional District before redistricting lines were redrawn. The Lakeland Republican serves an area that sprawls from Temple Terrace and Brandon through northern Polk County to Clermont.

Ross says he never wanted to be a career politician, and planned on serving 10 years at the most in Washington, D.C. He says it has nothing to do with facing motivated Democratic voters in midterm elections.

"If I was afraid my district was going to go Democrat, I would never leave. I would stay there. I would not abandon my district," he said. "I think that the demographics of my district are strong for a Republican. I think you're going to see some tremendous candidates come to the forefront under the Republican label. And I will work to support and elect another Republican.

This would be a tough seat for Democrats to turn - it has been in Republican hands since it was redistricted in 2000.

Ross says if Republicans are going to thrive they're going to have to be more the party of "yes," and less the party of "no."

"We failed miserably at doing one of our foremost campaign promises, and that was the repeal of the Affordable Care Act," he said. "And a lot of that was done because it wasn't done in the perfect fashion that some of ours that are more conservative wanted it done. When in fact, as a result of its failure, it brought us down even further. And if it had not been for tax reform, it would be a terrible situation for Republicans today."

He vows to stay in public service, and didn't rule out running for office again eventually.


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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