With somewhat curious timing, Arkansas Democratic Rep. Mike Ross has announced that he will not run for reelection in 2012. One year ago today, Ross was part of a congressional delegation that was 5-1 Democratic: both the state’s U.S. senators, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and three out of its four congressmen—Ross of the 4th district, Marion Berry of the 1st district and Vic Snyder of the 2nd district—were all Democrats.
But Berry and Snyder decided to retire rather than run for reelection in 2010, and both were replaced by Republicans. Lincoln was defeated by John Boozman, then the state’s only Republican in Congress, by a breathtaking 58%-37% margin. Now Ross, who as a Blue Dog leader and member of the Energy and Commerce Committee played a high-visibility game on Obamacare, has announced he’s quitting. Ross was reelected by a solid 58%-40% margin in 2010, one of the few Blue Dogs to do so well, and although redistricting reportedly made his district a little less Democratic he obviously hs the capacity to run ahead of his party. But Arkansas, the most Democratic Southern state in the years when Bill Clinton was running, voted 59%-39% for John McCain and against Barack Obama, and no one thinks that opinion has moved in Obama’s direction since.
Ross's retirement will make it just a bit harder for Democrats to regain their House majority. Republicans are in excellent shape to pick up and hold this seat.