Paul Ryan

Dennis Ross congressional district shifts from ‘safe’ to ‘likely’ — for now

rossFlorida Congressman Dennis Ross’s “Safe Republican” seat has moved to “Likely Republican” pending further review by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, after the Lakeland politician said yesterday he won’t seek re-election.

Ross’s announcement came the same day that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R, Wis.) revealed that he, too, intends to retire from Congress.

Ryan’s decision drew the bulk of Wednesday’s attention from the center’s political prognosticating crew, headed by Larry Sabato.

“Ross’s seat, the now-open FL-15, is also potentially competitive, and Trump won it by 10 in 2016,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the school’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said in a press release Thursday.  “We’re going to start it as Likely Republican with the possibility of a more competitive rating after we analyze it further.”

The reliably Republican district, that covers parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties, actually had more registered Democrats — 170,656 — than Republicans —  169,403 — in the 2016 general election, according to the state Division of Elections. The district also had 119,338 unaffiliated voters and another 10,948 listed with the Independent Party at the time.

However, President Donald Trump won the district with 53 percent of the vote, according to the Cook Political Report. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 43 percent.

Ross, who rode into Congress on a Tea Party wave in 2010, won his first congressional contest by 7 percent points, garnering about 15,000 more votes than Democrat Lori Edwards in 2010. He went unopposed in 2012 before winning by nearly 44,000 votes in 2014 and more then 47,500 votes in 2016.

There are now 59 open seats — 39 held by Republicans, 20 by Democrats — in the House, the second-highest post-World War II mark, according to Kondik’s latest post.

By Jim Turner.

Speaker Paul Ryan after touring Florida Irma damage: “We are in it with you”

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After touring the wreckage caused by Hurricane Irma in Jacksonville and the Keys, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan assured Floridians that he’s got their backs.

“America loves Florida. I gotta just tell ya,” Ryan, flanked by bipartisan representatives of Florida’s congressional delegation and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, told a gaggle of reporters at an airport hangar in Miami.

The group’s tour took place as Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico, leaving 100 percent of the island — still reeling from Irma — without power.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a young guy. I’ve been fishing in the back bay, in Florida Bay behind Islamorada since my early 20s. My mom is a resident of Broward County. And so we want Floridians to know that they, too are in the front of our thoughts and our prayers, that the federal response will be there. That’s why we are here.”

The Florida lawmakers brought the House speaker (and other congressional budget leaders) down to witness first-hand Irma’s widespread impact, Rubio said.

“We know there’s going to be money needed to help the state of Florida recover,” Rubio said. “We wanted him to see it.

The assessment apparently worked, with Ryan pledging bipartisan support for rebuilding Florida, “whether it’s structures or businesses or agriculture or everything in between.”

“More is going to occur. More is coming,” he said. “We want the people of Florida to know that we are in it with you, that the federal response will be complete and that we have more work to do and that’s why we’re here, to assess this.”

Ryan called the damage to Florida “really astounding” after flying over Miami and the Keys, where Irma initially made landfall Sunday before coming ashore again in the southwest region of the state.

Ryan marveled that the massive storm affected nearly every part of Florida.

“What’s impressive is the response and what is needed is more aid and more help,” he said. “We know the federal government has a very important role to play here.”