Jeff Miller Eyes D.C. Leadership Ladder Though Safely Seated in Florida

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: May 27, 2014 3:55 AM
Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller

As the Obama administration tries to clean up the VA department, Jeff Miller has somewhat surprisingly emerged as one of the leading Republicans in Washington.

Miller has done yeoman work in leading the Veterans Affairs Committee, criticizing the administration and Eric Shinseki while not descending into turning it into a partisan witch hunt. It’s to Miller’s credit that his bill, making it easier for the VA secretary to fire incompetent employees, received the backing of 160 Democrats when it passed the House last week.

The Panhandle congressman has always come off as a much larger figure in Washington than he ever has in Florida. While he may have served as the executive assistant to longtime Florida Agriculture Commissioner Doyle Conner and had a stint in the Florida House, Miller never quite managed to come back to Tallahassee. There’s been buzz that Miller wants to follow in Conner’s footsteps, but Adam Putnam is a near lock to hold onto the position until at least 2018. That being the case, Miller continues to eye moving up the leadership ladder in Washington.

First elected to Congress in 2001 to fill the place of Joe Scarborough who resigned his seat, Miller has steadily risen up the ranks during his time in Washington. Besides leading the Veterans Affairs Committee, Miller sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Mike Rogers, the current chair of the Intelligence Committee, is retiring from Congress this year and Miller has already floated his name as a replacement. It would be a big step for Miller, who was named to the committee back in 2009, and he faces some rivals like Peter King and Devin Nunes for the post. Nonetheless, Miller certainly hasn’t hurt his chances of moving up with his leadership on veterans issues.

If his chances of leading the Intelligence Committee are uncertain, Miller’s odds at home are much better. Miller has one of the safest Republican congressional seats in Florida. He also does very well in the general elections. Only twice -- in 2001 when he ran in the special election and in 2006 which was one of the best years in recent memory for Democrats -- did Miller receive less than 70 percent of the general election vote.

In 2012, Miller cruised again, despite President Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney to win Florida and Democrat Bill Nelson routing Republican Connie Mack in the U.S. Senate election. Miller took 70 percent while Democrat Jim Bryan, a businessman and Vietnam veteran, lagged far behind.

Hoping the third time is the charm, Bryan is running again. Unless something drastic happens, don’t expect Bryan to improve much on his past showings, taking 29 percent against Miller in 2008 and 27 percent in a rematch in 2012. John Krause, a businessman and private investigator, is offering a conservative challenge to Miller and hopes to defeat the incumbent in the Republican primary. But Krause has had little success before when he ran against Miller without party affiliation in 2010: he posted only 8 percent of the vote. Independent Mark Wichern is also in the mix. 

Right now, Miller is an extremely heavy favorite to return to Washington for a seventh full term. Representing a heavily Republican-leaning district and facing familiar opponents, for the moment he is in excellent shape for the 2014 elections, giving him more room to play on the national stage and focus on moving up the congressional ladder. 

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.


Comments (2)

2:21PM MAY 27TH 2014
Miller certainly was aware of the myriad problems with the VA for years prior to this "scandal" becoming political fodder. As a resident of NW Fl., I would be horrified to learn that Jeff Miller managed to migrate to any higher office This man, as my "Representative", is one of the most conservative members in the country-and is inordinately proud of the fact. He spends more time outside the district than in and is listed as one of the "most well-travelled" Members of Congress. All at taxpayer expense. In all the years I have been under-represented by Miller- more than 15-in all the letters sent to his office, I have received no more than 2 replies-both months later. The canned format "reply from.." stating that he receives thousands of emails and requests daily" is the usual reply; although he does tell all constituents that he values our input because such allows him to better serve those he "represents". What a crock. This man needs to go-As another wrote said-"time to clean house". I second that motion. Jeff Miller represents no one other than his own interests. He makes a point in his weekly newsletters to print all photo ops in which he has managed to insert himself, making it appear that he is mightily toiling for the good of the State.
As for his so-called, tireless work on behalf of veterans, he has failed to mitigate the situation in his own district where more than half the population are retired military. For Miller to suggest that he is working for the vets? He has not. What's worse is the fact that he disavows all knowledge of the problems endemic in the VA system. He most definitely knew-and did nothing. He will continue to accomplish nothing for the veteran community if he is appointed to any higher position. Jeff Miller personifies all that is rotten -not in Denmark, but in both Okaloosa County, Fl., and Congress in general.
C Breeze
9:45AM MAY 27TH 2014
HEY !...Miller KNEW about the "VA problem" as long, or LONGER than anyone; and far EARLIER than anyone, since he is "CHAIRMAN OF THE CONGRESSIONAL VA COMMITTEE". His present efforts to "appear as leader" regarding this issue is nothing more than "political opportunism". Miller is nothing special...believe me, I live in his Santa Rosa Beach, Florida District: It's more than time to "pull him off the government mammary" too. Time to "clean house" folks...Congress is ALMOST as rancid as the Obama White House.

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