LITTLE ROCK U.S. Rep. Mike Ross said Friday that he’s not reconsidering a run for governor in 2014 after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel admitted to having an extramarital relationship, but the retiring Democratic lawmaker wouldn’t completely rule out the idea.
Ross, who announced in May that he wouldn’t seek the state’s top office, told The Associated Press he’s focusing on his final days as a congressman and preparing for his new job with the Southwest Power Pool. Ross did not seek re-election this year.
Ross said those plans haven’t changed since McDaniel, a Democrat and the only announced candidate for governor, admitted to an inappropriate relationship this week with a Hot Springs attorney. McDaniel has said he won’t drop out of the race.
“I really haven’t given any thought to it and don’t plan to in the immediate future,” Ross said. “But I’m only 51 and you never say never.”
Ross had been widely expected to run for governor when he announced last year that he wouldn’t seek re-election to his south Arkansas seat. He instead announced plans in May to take a job as senior vice president for government affairs and public relations for SPP, which manages electric services for 65 utilities in a nine-state area.
“That’s not to say I won’t think about it at some point in the future, but I’m not thinking about it and don’t plan to in the immediate future and certainly not during this time in Congress,” Ross said. “I’m starting a new job in January and I’m going to be preoccupied with that for a while.”
Days before admitting to the relationship, McDaniel’s campaign had touted internal polling that showed the attorney general with a strong lead over potential Democratic primary rivals. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter have said they’re considering a run, but have not said when they’ll decide. Several Republicans are looking at the race.
Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.
Since deciding against the race, Ross has repeatedly suggested his political career was over once he left Congress. He made similar comments in a column his office sent earlier Friday where he reflected on his time in Washington.
“There are a lot of people that do a lot of good without putting their name on the ballot,” Ross wrote. “As my time in elected office comes to a close, I look forward to becoming one of them.”