After holding the District 47 seat for the last three years, Florida State Rep. Republican Mike Miller is hoping to move up the political ladder.
Miller on June 29 announced he would be running for Congress, which could mean taking on incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a resident of Winter Park and a Democrat.
Inspired by a desire to bring a focus on smaller government and people-based politics to Washington, D.C., Miller decided his best bet would be representing Florida’s Congressional District 7.
“When I got elected to the Florida House, I really learned a lot about the state politics versus the national politics,” Miller said. “I really believe in what the Founding Fathers did — that the states are really the places where things happen — and that the national government should be limited in size and scope, because the states are really closer to the people. I’m watching now a Congress and a federal government that is really out of touch.”
“You should have a safe place to live, because … then you have a safe place to do your homework, you have a safe place to get a good night’s rest, you have a safe place to have a meal.”
— Mike Miller
Before Miller can run against Murphy in the general election, he’ll first have to beat Scott Sturgill in a primary. Sturgill, a Republican and businessman in Seminole County, previously ran for the District 30 seat in the Florida House in 2014 and lost to current Rep. Bob Cortes.
Miller is focusing his campaign on two different policies — downsizing government and advocating for affordable housing.
State’s rights always has been an important concept to Miller, who believes the federal government is way too involved regarding legislation and regulation.
Regarding housing, Miller served for 17 years on the Winter Park Housing Authority.
“I truly believe in our country, people should have the ability to have a safe place to live,” Miller said. “You should have a safe place to live, because … then you have a safe place to do your homework, you have a safe place to get a good night’s rest, you have a safe place to have a meal. A lot of the challenges I hear in schools and in communities are kids that are struggling, because they can’t get a decent meal or can’t get a good night’s sleep.”
Born and raised in Washington, Miller initially made his way to Florida after transferring from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the University of Florida to play baseball.
After graduating in 1990 from Florida, and knowing he wouldn’t make it playing baseball professionally, Miller decided to return to D.C. to explore his interests in politics.
“I did what a lot of people in D.C. do when they don’t know what is going on at Capitol Hill — they go up there and get a job to see what’s going on,” Miller said. “My first job out of college was working for U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, and it was a fantastic experience.”
Along with working for the popular former senator from Florida, Miller also worked under other congressmen before he met Nora, the woman who would become his wife.
Looking to get back to Florida, Miller suggested possibly moving to Winter Park. During the time the two were discussing the move, Mack retired and Bill McCollum put his name into run for senate — Miller saw his chance to help.
The couple moved and bought a house, the same one they have lived in for the last 21 years, and Miller began his ride in Florida politics. McCollum lost, but the Millers loved Central Florida so much that they decided to stay.
After working under multiple politicians, including Marco Rubio when he won his U.S. Senate race, Miller took a break from politics and worked at Rollins College. During his time at the school, Miller worked on his master’s degree and graduated with an MBA in 2008.
Although he enjoyed his time at the college, there was still a yearning to return to the political arena.
“I missed being a part of the conversation, and that’s why I ran for the State House,” Miller said. “I wanted to be a part of the conversation about, ‘What are we doing in the state government to make it better for Florida? Make it better for families like mine?’ And so I ran and won in 2014.”
Since that win, Miller has enjoyed his time working for the people of Florida in the state capitol in Tallahassee but hopes to accomplish more with this run for Congress.
“People ask, ‘Is this about Orange County or Seminole County?’ No, this is about the region; this is about our state; and this is ultimately about our country,” Miller said. “The conversation (that) I have been having in the State House is, ‘How do we represent Central Florida, and make it better for families?’ I feel like I can have that conversation in Congress. I feel like I can relate to the average American family.”