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Dennis Ross to undergo routine heart surgery, promises a ‘positive campaign’

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross will undergo surgery Tuesday in Orlando to repair a heart defect he has had since birth.

As reported by the Ledger of Lakeland, Ross was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, which if left untreated could develop into an aneurysm and become life threatening.

“Upon informing some of my family and friends of my scheduled surgery, many were surprised that as a lawyer and politician I even had a heart,” Ross joked in a statement Monday. “Fortunately, my doctors told me I have a good heart, and I just need a new valve and a little ‘re-piping.’ I have been living with this very common defect since I was born, and I have still lived a healthy, normal and fulfilled life.”

The third-term Lakeland Republican said it takes six to eight weeks to recover from the procedure, though he doesn’t expect the downtime to interfere with his re-election campaign.

“I knew it had to be done eventually,” he said, “and now is a good time.”

Ross doesn’t have a Republican opponent in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, so he doesn’t have to worry about campaigning ahead of the Aug. 30 primary, though he does face Democrat James Lange in the general election for the Republican-leaning district that covers parts of Polk and Lake counties. Ballotpedia ranks the seat as safe for the Republican.

“We will be ready, and we’ll run a positive campaign,” he said.

Ross did not announce the names of the hospital or surgeon who will care for him for privacy reasons, but said that the doctor had performed the procedure about 11,000 times.

“This surgery is routine maintenance with a full recovery expected,” he added. “I want to thank all of those who have sent their kind and encouraging words and prayers my way. It means the world to Cindy, my boys and me. I am already geared up and excited to get back to work and continue representing the great folks of Florida’s 15th Congressional District.”

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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