Congressman, and expected 2014 gubernatorial candidate, Mike Ross dropped a political bombshell today that sent shock waves throughout the state.
Today Ross told the Arkansas media he would not be a candidate for Governor in 2014, catching everyone by surprise.
Last July, Ross announced his wouldn’t seek Congressional reelection in 2012 and it was widely speculated that Ross made that decision to make it logistically easier to run for Governor. Ross’s remarks at his 2011 retirement press conference and subsequent statewide travels were clear signals he was likely to run for Governor.
I’m told by reliable sources that Ross struggled with today’s decision for months. Ross has been in public office for 22 years, ten years as State Senator and 12 years as Congressman and I’m told that he is just tired of political life and the prospect of a high-paying job with Southwest Power Pool, Inc. was too good to pass up.
However, some astute Democrats are grumbling that if political retirement was Ross’s intention all along, he should have announced such before redistricting began last year and Democrats could have drawn Congressional lines accordingly.
At this time, the only potentially definite Democratic candidate for Governor is Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. Of course, everyone thought Ross was running for Governor, so who knows who’s actually running at this point.
Little Rock businessman John Burkhalter has floated his name as a potential candidate, but Burkhlater has floated his name in previous cycles, only to not pull the trigger. Finally, former Lieutenant Governor and 2010 Senate candidate Bill Halter could make the race, however, Halter has a history of waiting until the last minute to announce his political intentions, so we might know until late 2013 what his political intentions are, if any.
With Ross out, is there a potential and viable Democratic candidate out there who might throw his/her hat into the ring that we might not have previously considered?
Regardless, Ross’s announcement today has far-reaching implications for potential gubernatorial candidates and the 2014 Governor’s race.