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Rep. Brad Miller (D)
Rep. Brad Miller (D)
This is deeply disappointing news from Rep. Brad Miller, who has put out an unusually candid statement about his retirement:
Because your support has been so important to me, I wanted you to hear from me that I will not seek another term in Congress.

Serving in Congress has been a remarkable opportunity. Thank you.

I knew Republicans in the legislature would dismantle the district that I have represented for the last decade, and they did. The thirteenth district was split six ways. I also knew that they would create one packed Democratic district in the Triangle, so that all the surrounding districts would be Republican, and they did. I knew that both David Price and I would both reside in that district, and we do. And I knew that the district would include the neighborhoods that we have each looked to for our support, and it does.

The new fourth district includes 33 percent of the old fourth and 31 percent of the old thirteenth, the largest piece of my old district.

I told David within a week of the election last year that with Republicans in control of redistricting, we would almost certainly be drawn into the same district. And to be honest, since David has broadly hinted to me and others that he would only serve one more term, I believed that he would retire a term earlier than he intended in the circumstances. That obviously has not happened. David has made it very clear that he intends to run again. I have two choices: run in a primary with David, or not seek another term.

Because David has represented Wake County and I have represented none of Orange or Durham, I would be the underdog in a primary with David. I have begun campaigns in the past as the underdog, and campaigned with great energy, enthusiasm and joy.

There would be no joy in this campaign.

Miller was a strong progressive voice on Capitol Hill and has long been a good friend to the netroots community. Indeed, he's been a member of Daily Kos for over half a decade and has been a regular participant here. (Rare among elected officials, he's been known to participate in diaries posted by folks other than himself.) I have gotten the chance to know Miller personally and have met him on many occasions. He's one of those truly good guys you wish there were many more of in Congress, and it's a sad day indeed to know he won't be there come next year.

But as he intimates above, Miller had a very tough path toward re-election. While, as he notes, the new 4th District is comprised of almost equal parts of Price's old 4th and Miller's old 13th, the traditional media almost invariably regarded the seat as Price's and viewed Miller as the "challenger"—an unfair characterization, but one that affected perceptions of Miller. Price had also served in office longer and it seemed as though he he was likely to wind up with more of the establishment on his side.

One thing's for certain: After Price released an internal poll in October showing him up 46-25 in a hypothetical primary matchup, Miller never responded with one of his own. I suspect the results would not have been especially favorable. Miller was also never a major fundraising force and I'm sure didn't relish the thought of dialing for dollars solely for the purpose of taking down a fellow Democrat.

If there's any silver lining here, it's that David Price is also a good Dem, and that since Republicans deliberately drew this as a safe blue district, he should be re-elected without any problems. But needless to say, we don't have the same kind of special relationship with Price that we do with Miller—which is a big part of why we endorsed him on our Orange to Blue list—and we will miss Miller a great deal.

Could we see Miller wage a comeback bid someday? After all, he is only 58. Sadly, though, it doesn't sound like we should expect him to. From his statement:

I do not have an agreement with David to step aside now and run in two years when he retires, as has been widely rumored, nor have I tried to strike any deal. The reality is that if I sat out a term and returned to Congress, I would be starting over for most purposes. I would have no assurance of my committee assignments and even if I won assignment to the same committees, I would lose all seniority. Just as important, the debate on the issues that I care about, and on which I am now a leader, would move on. No, I could not simply pick up where I left off.

Also, redistricting in North Carolina has left very few opportunities for talented younger Democrats, of whom there are many in this district. In two years, maybe it should be someone else’s turn.

I'm going to cling to that "maybe" in that final clause and hope that in a few years' time, should Price retire, that Miller makes his way back into Congress. Needless to say, we wish Rep. Miller the very best whatever he decides to do with his time, and if he ever wants to think about returning to office, we'll be there to help him.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jan 26, 2012 at 08:11 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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