Vigil for Justice rally in March 2013.
Competition among Democrats for the seat is likely to be fierce. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has already told the Sacramento Bee that he plans to run. "I'm playing phone tag with him right now. George is a really good friend," DeSaulnier said. "I wish him well and I would love to replace him in Congress. It was always my intention to run."
Miller's departure will be a loss for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He was arguably her strongest ally and a key advisor. He has been a vigorous advocate on issues of labor, health, protection of natural resources and education. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Those weren't the only issues that concern him as can be seen by the caucuses he is now or has in the past a member of.
At age 29, Miller won a congressional seat in the post-Watergate landslide of 1974 that gave Democrats more than two-thirds of the House of Representatives. The only other member of Congress who was a freshman Democrat that year who has served continuously since then is Rep. Henry Waxman, also of California. In a press release posted at his website, Miller said:
This is a great institution and I cannot thank my family and my constituents enough for having given me the honor and privilege of representing my district in Congress these past 40 years. [...] I have tried to repay them for their confidence by working hard every day to make our country a better place. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform. Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been. [...]Miller said he has a full plate for his last year in Congress, with a focus on getting unemployment benefits renewed, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and reforming immigration policy, among other issues.
Wealthy and powerful special interests have always had plenty of friends in Washington. I came to Congress to stand up for the rest of us. And I have learned a great deal in the process. Two lessons stand out among many: First, that enacting progressive public policy is good for our economy and our country. It helps to grow and strengthen the middle class, and that makes America a better place for everyone. And, second, that making good public policy is very hard work. The job is never done. It requires a great sense of urgency to move forward on the big issues and enormous stamina to see them all the way through. The wins don’t come quickly, even when the need is dire, and the losses are hard to accept.
Pelosi issued a statement of her own:
For 40 years in the House, George Miller has been the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator. In the majority, as chairman of three committees, and in the minority as well, he has written some of the most creative legislation of our time—on health care, education, child policy and labor rights, and also on the environment, energy and national parks. George always incorporated the most current research of our best thinkers into innovative bills, and he passed most of them with bipartisan support.President Obama also issued a statement.
Miller said his decision to retire got under way last year when he said his sons told him, "'C'mon, Dad, it's been 40 years!'"