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Dennis Ross makes official announcement; running for fourth term

A fourth two-year term in Congress is what U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican, is wishing for.

On Thursday, Ross, 56, made his official announcement for the post in the three counties of his 15th Congressional District after redistricting orders from the Florida Supreme Court, warning of terrorism and the national debt.

“Our work is not done. I firmly believe that these next two years are the most important two years in our lifetime. Our safety and security are at risk both at home and abroad,” Ross said in his printed press statement just before speaking. “Islamic terrorists threaten our way of life. Our budget deficit threatens our way of life.”

He stopped in Plant City, Lakeland and Clermont three of the largest cities in his slightly reshaped district.

Ross first won the seat in 2010. Previously, his home base of Polk County had been trimmed from his district. Recent changes had make the region solidly Republican. It was formerly held by Charles T. Canady and later Adam Putnam.

However, now the 15th Congressional District leans slightly more Democratic, with parts of Polk, Hillsborough and Lake counties. During court-ordered redistricting, Lake was added to the district for the first time.

Although the boundaries and district numbers have changed over the years, this principally Polk County district had been in the Republican camp since 1984 when then-Congressman Andy Ireland of Winter Haven switched from Democrat to Republican.

There was no name calling from Ross, as there had been in some of the recent races, particularly Republican races. When he did criticize, Ross took a slightly more civil tone.

For him, the military is essential to the race.

“I will continue (our) fight to strengthen our military and defeat radical Islamic terrorists,” he said. “These next two years are the most important two years in our lifetime. Our safety and security are at risk both at home and abroad. Islamic terrorists threaten our way of life. (And) our budget deficit threatens our way of life.”

Challenging Ross is Jim Lange, 54, a Lutz Democrat and business consultant.

Lange just entered the race and had listed no campaign money.

In the most recent campaign finance reporting period, Ross posted $539,763 in campaign contributions.

Written By

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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