Miller, of Winter Park, is running in a district covering Seminole County and north-central and northeast Orange County that had been Republican for decades but shifted to slightly Democrat in the last election, allowing Murphy to knock off longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica.
Murphy, also of Winter Park, has been carefully trying to establish moderate credentials in Congress, but her ties are strong with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the left-wing the California congresswoman represents. They participated at a high level during her campaign last year.
Miller, a former former baseball player at the University of Florida, is coming out swinging.
“It’s time for Congress to represent the views, the values and the priorities of the people,” Miller stated in a news release “And making that happen starts right here at home, by electing a member of Congress whose vote is guided by what’s right, and what’s in the interest of our people, our community and our nation. This district should no longer be represented by someone whose vote is controlled by Nancy Pelosi and the ultra-left.”
Yet he also made it clear that he’s not trying to target Murphy exactly, but intends to say that as someone with “a typical Central Florida family trying to make ends meet, we’re trying to do the right things for our kids, get them set up for success. I just feel I’m a better representative from a personal standpoint.”
Miller won election in House District 48 in 2014, ousting Democratic then-state Rep. Linda Stewart in a district that is fairly evenly split. He won re-election in a relatively close race last fall.
In an announcement of his candidacy, his campaign declared that he fought hard to balance the state budget without tax or fee increases, improve public education by empowering parents and supporting the largest state education budget in state history, and supported $1 billion in tax cuts for Floridians.
Miller also reached across the aisle to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to oppose fracking in Florida and help address Orlando’s homeless problems. He also took a lead role in addressing the opioid crisis, pushing legislation that would crack down on dealers, whom he said, “are in effect murdering people with opioids laced with fentanyl.”
Two weeks ago Miller went to Washington D.C. and met with various Republican leaders there, including the Republican National Campaign Committee, before deciding to run.
He’ll need their support because Pelosi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other Democratic organizations backed Murphy with more than $5 million last fall, and are likely to return behind her in 2018.
Miller’s entry into the race poses a potential major Republican primary fight with state Sen. David Simmons of Altamonte Springs, who has repeatedly declared his interest in taking on Murphy in CD 7, at one point declaring he was 98 certain he would enter the race. He has not done so yet though.
“It doesn’t change mine at all,” Simmons said Thursday of his plans. “I am in the same place I was when I originally stated that I’m 98 percent there. I will continue to move forward with my plans.”
Another potential candidate is Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who is not commenting directly on the prospect of running for Congress in CD 7, but is increasingly seeking the limelight, as he did Thursday with a press conference declaring he and some of his deputy tax collectors would be open-carrying firearms for their safety.