U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Republican from Lakeland who has represented Florida’s 15h Congressional District since 2011, announced he would not seek re-election this year.
Ross told his staff the news Wednesday morning then announced his decision to retire in a release issued by his office.
“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,” said Ross. “After thoughtful prayer and consideration, my wife Cindy and I decided that I will not seek re-election for a fifth-term in office. 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.”
Ross’ announcement is just the latest in a series of Republican House members who have decided not to seek re-election. It came just an hour after House Speaker Paul Ryan told his House Republican colleagues that he would not run for re-election in November.
A total of 25 Republican members of Congress have announce their retirement this year. Ross becomes the third Republican from Florida to decide not to run for re-election in 2018. The other two are Thomas Rooney and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
“I never viewed this amazing opportunity as a job or a career. My home has been and will continue to be in Lakeland, Florida,” Ross said in a statement. 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’ congressional district was considered to be relatively “safe” for Republicans. The non-partisan Cook Report did not list Ross’ seat as among the most vulnerable this election year. President Donald Trump won the district by 10 points in 2016.
Ross first served in the Florida House of Representatives in 2000 succeeding Adam Putnam who was elected to Congress. In 2010, Ross decided to enter the race for the 12th Congressional seat vacated by Putnam, who chose to run for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. In 2013, that district became the 15th Congressional District.