U.S. Rep. Mike Ross announced Monday that he will not run for governor next year. Instead, he will be joining the Little Rock-based Southwest Power Pool as its senior vice president for government affairs and public relations when his U.S. house term ends in January.
“I’ve received a lot of encouragement and given serious consideration to seeking the office of Governor of Arkansas in 2014, a race that will begin early next year,” Ross said. “However, after a lot of prayer and reflection, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2014.”
Ross, a Democrat from Prescott, announced last summer that he would not be seeking a seventh term to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As a result, instead of campaigning and raising money, I have been able to spend more time, including weekends, with my family for the past year,” Ross said. “We have enjoyed getting back to a more normal way of life after 22 continuous years of elective service. This led me to the realization that there is life after politics.”
Ross will join the Southwest Power Pool rather than run for governor.
“While many people have never heard of Southwest Power Pool, they perform an important mission in managing the electric grid and keeping electric rates affordable in nine states,” Ross said. “Public service has always been an important part of my life, and although I will no longer be holding elective office, this is another way for me to continue to serve the public as Southwest Power Pool works to meet the electricity needs of its nine-state region today and for the future. This is an especially good fit for me, as I begin a new chapter in my life, because Southwest Power Pool is a non-profit organization that serves an important public service, and it allows me to remain here at home in Arkansas with my family.
“I have held elective office for the past 22 years, including 10 years in the Arkansas State Senate and 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Ross said. “During that time, we have helped thousands of people and fought for common sense policies, but I didn’t do it alone. It was done with the help of a dedicated staff that worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Arkansas. I will always be grateful to them for their service to our state and nation.
“My service to the people of my home state has been the highest professional honor of my life, and I will never forget those who have placed their trust and confidence in me,” Ross said. “Let me assure the people of Arkansas’s Fourth Congressional District that I will remain on the job, and continue to provide them with a strong and effective voice in our nation’s capitol for the remainder of the term that I was elected to serve, just as I have tried faithfully to do from the beginning.”
Ross spent 10 years as an Arkansas state senator in a district that included the Prescott-Magnolia area, followed by what will be a total of 12 years in Congress – he retires as Arkansas’ senior congressman. He is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
A primary election next week will select Republican and Democratic Party nominees for the November general election to replace Ross. The Libertarian Party will also field a candidate.
No one has formally announced a run for governor in 2012 but former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a Democrat, and current Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, a Republican, are possibilities. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, holds a post that has been a traditional springboard for gubernatorial candidates.