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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/11/18

Right on Paul Ryan's heels, another House Republican bails -- and his Florida seat could be winnable

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By Daily Kos Staff

On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Dennis Ross announced that he would not seek a fifth term. Ross' move came just after news that House Speaker Paul Ryan would also retire, though the Florida Man says he learned of Ryan's departure as he was telling his own staff about his decision.

Florida's 15th Congressional District, which includes some of Tampa's suburbs as well as the city Lakeland, voted for Donald Trump by a 53-43 margin, but it went for Mitt Romney by a narrower 52-47 four years earlier, so it could be competitive in a strong Democratic year -- as 2018 is shaping up to be.

Ross spent years in the state legislature before launching a congressional campaign in 2010 to succeed Adam Putnam, who left that year to run for state agriculture commissioner and is now a GOP candidate for governor. Ross, who was known to many national observers as the other (and less-famous) Dennis Ross, had plenty of support from the party establishment, and he easily won his primary.

However, the general election was a bit more difficult. While Democrat Lori Edwards had trouble raising money, she was helped when Polk County Supervisor Randy Wilkinson, who had planned to run in the GOP primary, decided to campaign as a tea party independent. But 2010 was simply a horrible year for Democrats, and though Wilkinson took 11 percent of the vote, Ross beat Edwards 48-41.

Ross never had another competitive campaign, and while he rose to become senior deputy majority whip, he never attracted much attention in the House. Now, the dude known as the other Dennis Ross also gets to be remembered as the other Republican who retired on April 11, making him the record-smashing 39th member of the House GOP caucus to bail this year.

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