He graduated from Saint Johns River State College with an associate degree in 1976. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1981 and was a member of Delta Upsilon.
Following his college graduation, Ray worked as an engineer, eventually becoming President of the First Coast Manufacturers Association. He was elected to the Jacksonville City Council and served from 1999 to 2007. When incumbent State Representative Stan Jordan was unable to seek re-election in 2008, Adkins ran to succeed him in District 17, which included northeastern Duval County.
He faced Mario Rubio and Gordon Morgan in the Republican primary, easily defeating both of them with 52% of the vote.
In the general election, Ray faced Regina Young, the Democratic nominee and a minister. The Florida Times-Union endorsed Ray, praising him for his "solid experience in public affairs and.good track record for responding to his constituents." He was able to defeat Young easily, winning with 64% of the vote, and was re-elected without opposition in 2010.
When districts were reconfigured in 2012, Ray was drawn into the 12th District, which included much of the territory that he had represented in the 17th District. Ray emphasized his experience in Tallahassee and pledged to work to "bring jobs to JaxPort and broaden the economic opportunities around the region and state." He ended up defeating Morian in a landslide, winning 68% of the vote to Morian"s 32%.