WHERE ARE THEY NOW

Mike Ross Proves You Can Teach a Blue Dog New Tricks

Then-Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., announces in Little Rock, Ark., Monday, July 25, 2011, that he will not seek a seventh term in Congress.
National Journal
Cameron Smith
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Cameron Smith
Aug. 26, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

After 12 years in the House rep­res­ent­ing the 4th Dis­trict of Arkan­sas, Mike Ross is run­ning for gov­ernor, in hopes of prac­ti­cing polit­ics out­side the Belt­way.

“The cam­paign isn’t that dif­fer­ent,” says Ross, 52. “Frankly, it’s easi­er to travel the state now,” point­ing out that his cam­paign op­er­a­tions are based in Little Rock, which Ross says is more cent­ral than his long­time home in Prescott.

Ross, who is mar­ried with two grown chil­dren, says he wasn’t sure what the fu­ture would hold when he de­cided to re­tire from the House after the 112th Con­gress. “I wasn’t fed up with polit­ics,” he says. “I was just fed up with Wash­ing­ton.”

After leav­ing the House, Ross worked at the Little Rock-based non­profit South­w­est Power Pool, a group that over­sees com­pli­ance en­force­ment and re­li­ab­il­ity stand­ards de­vel­op­ment with­in the elec­tric-power in­dustry. But after high-pro­file Demo­crats with­drew their names from Arkan­sas’s 2014 gubernat­ori­al con­test, Ross says, he re­ceived “e-mails, let­ters, phone calls — about 800 — from people ask­ing me to run.” He de­clared his can­did­acy in April.

“It wasn’t something that I planned to be do­ing,” Ross ad­mits. “It was really a grass­roots thing.”

The chips have all fallen in­to place for Ross, who thinks “state gov­ern­ments are really where the ac­tion is.” Ross, like many oth­er re­tired mem­bers of Con­gress, found the in­activ­ity and grid­lock in Wash­ing­ton nearly im­possible to deal with.

As a mem­ber of the Blue Dog Co­ali­tion, a group of fisc­ally con­ser­vat­ive Demo­crats, Ross was known for be­ing in­de­pend­ent and not be­hold­en to the Demo­crat­ic Party’s wishes. He says he of­ten wanted to work across party lines but be­came frus­trated with “the blind par­tis­an­ship that dom­in­ates Con­gress.”

After the 112th Con­gress, many mem­bers of the Blue Dog Co­ali­tion took their ex­pert­ise and their ef­forts out­side the Belt­way, where they could help loc­al com­munit­ies dir­ectly, without hav­ing to deal with the par­tis­an­ship in Wash­ing­ton. That left the group “spread out across our dif­fer­ent re­gions,” Ross said.

“The Blue Dog Co­ali­tion was a tight-knit group, he said. “It’s like a fam­ily. That was one of the toughest parts of leav­ing the job, know­ing that we would all be spread out across the coun­try.” Ross says he stays in touch with all of his fel­low Blue Dog col­leagues and adds that he “got to see a few of them,” when he was in D.C. for a fun­draiser for his gubernat­ori­al cam­paign. But most of the com­mu­nic­a­tion he has with his former col­leagues is through phone calls, text mes­sages, and e-mails.

“Those are life long friends.”

Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily’s Where Are They Now series catches up with law­makers who left of­fice in Janu­ary to find out what they are do­ing. It will run throughout Au­gust.

What We're Following See More »
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Senators Looking to Limit Deportations Under Trump
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.

Source:
REQUIRES CHANGE IN LAW
Trump Taps Mattis for Defense Secretary
3 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.

Source:
MEASURE HEADED TO OBAMA
Senate OKs 10-Year Extension of Iran Sanctions
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login