Rep. Jeff Miller (R)
Elected: Oct. 2001, 4th full term.
Born: June 27, 1959, St. Petersburg .
Education: U. of FL, B.A. 1984.
Family: Married (Vicki); 2 children.
Elected office: FL House of Reps., 1998-2001.
Professional Career: Real estate broker, Henry Co. homes; Owner, Jeff Miller Real Estate; Deputy sheriff.
The congressman from the 1st District is Jeff Miller, a Republican who won a special election in October 2001. The scion of a pioneer farm family that settled in central Florida in the mid-1800s, Miller grew up in Levy County, where his parents raised cattle. He graduated from the University of Florida and became an aide to the state’s longtime agriculture commissioner, Democrat Doyle Conner. In 1998, he moved to Santa Rosa County, his wife’s family’s home, and began to sell real estate. Also in 1998, a year after he switched to the Republican Party, he ran his first political campaign, challenging a Republican state representative who had received some negative press after an altercation with a state trooper. Miller won 53%-47%. Not long afterward, the 1st District seat came open following the resignation of Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, who became a talk-show host on the MSNBC cable network. Miller quickly became the favorite of national party leaders. Sensitive to coastal interests, Miller and the other serious contenders all claimed to be ardent environmentalists, an unusual twist in a Republican primary. Miller’s best-known opponent was state Rep. Randy Knepper, chief of staff to the district’s former representative, Earl Hutto, D-Fla., who retired in 1994. Scarborough endorsed Miller as “a strong voice for northwest Florida.” In the six-candidate contest, Miller got 54% to only 15% for Knepper and 16% for businessman Michael Francisco, a decorated combat pilot. National Democrats made no major effort to win this seat that they had held less than seven years earlier, and Miller won the general election, 66%-28%.
|Jeff Miller (R)||232,559||(70%)||($458,359)|
|James Bryan (D)||98,797||(30%)||($18,358)|
|Jeff Miller (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (69%), 2004 (77%), 2002 (75%), 2001 (66%)
In the House, Miller has compiled a mostly conservative record. In contrast to the vocal Scarborough, he gained a reputation for being soft-spoken and a good listener. But he also has a decidedly lower profile. As a more active and outspoken member, Scarborough often got the attention of the Republican leadership. When he arrived in Washington, Miller got seats on the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees, obvious assignments for this district. He made multiple visits to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and praised the conduct of the war. He worked to protect local military facilities in the base-closing process. In 2004, when Democrats were seeking to force a House vote on Miller’s bill to provide a 100% annuity to surviving military spouses, he persuaded Republican leaders to call up the bill and avoid a partisan conflict; the measure was passed into law. A long-standing foe of oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, he relented in 2006, accepting a deal that opened up some offshore drilling but included a bar on drilling rigs in a military training range that extends at least 200 miles south of Fort Walton Beach. An avid gun-rights advocate, he sponsored a bill in 2007 to give hunters in the District of Columbia in-state rates for licenses in the more open spaces of Maryland or Virginia. He also has sponsored a bill to place the face of Ronald Reagan on the half-dollar coin.
When Republicans lost control of the House, Miller became the ranking Republican on the Health Subcommittee on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. In 2008, he secured $54 million for an in-patient center at Eglin Hospital and pushed for a new veterans’ hospital near the base to replace one destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At the outset of the 111th Congress in 2009, Miller got a promotion, becoming the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism and unconventional threats.
In the 2002 primary, Miller faced a rematch with special election primary runner-up Francisco, who criticized his lack of military experience. Miller won 64%-36%. Since then, Democrats have run only token challengers against him.