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Florida GOP U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross will not run for re-election

Decision opens up another potential Democratic target in the Sunshine State

♦By Rich Shumate,

LAKELAND, Florida (CFP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross has announced he will not seek a fifth term in November, opening up a congressional seat in Tampa’s eastern suburbs.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Florida

Ross’s announcement came shortly after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he too was retiring from Congress, amid projections of a Democratic wave that could flip control of the House this year.

“I never viewed this amazing opportunity as a job or a career,” Ross said in a statement announcing his retirement. “My home has been and will continue to be in Lakeland, Florida.”

Ross said he would resume his law practice and pursue “opportunities to increase civic education for our youth, and young adults, and with that encourage more engagement and participation of future generations in government.”

Before the announcement, Ross, 58, first elected in the Republican wave of 2010, had been considered a prohibitive favorite to retain the 15th District seat, which includes the eastern suburbs of Tampa and northwestern Polk County, including Lakeland. The district tilts Republican, and Ross won 57 percent in 2016.

With filing for primary elections set to begin on May 4, the question for Democrats will be finding a candidate with enough statute to make the 15h District race competitive. Six Democrats are currently running, but none has any political experience.

While 54 incumbent House members are not running in 2018 — a retirement rate of 12 percent– Ross is just the second House member from Florida to forgo re-election in 2018. The other is Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents a Miami-area district that is considered a likely Democratic pickup.

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