Congressional Committee Chair Announces Bid For County Office

By John Celock

A congressional committee chairwoman has announced that she plans to seek a county public works post this year as she plans to leave Congress after seven terms.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, announced Wednesday that she is running for Macomb County public works commissioner this year. Miller, a former Michigan secretary of state, has previously announced that she did not plan to seek an eighth term in Congress this year. Miller has been considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in Michigan in 2018.

“I said I wasn’t going to run for Congress again because I am a Michigan girl and it was time for me to come home,” Miller said in a YouTube video. “But I never said I was going to retire. Hey, I am way too young to retire.”

Miller, 61, said that she is passionate about water issues and wanted to work on underground infrastructure issues relating to sewer and water lines, which are handled by the public works commissioner in the county of over 800,000 people. Miller will likely faceoff against six-term Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco (D), who has faced criticism regarding sewer overflows on to beaches and into the Clinton River in the county, an issue Miller cited in her announcement.

“One of my principle advocacies has been protecting our water,” Miller said. “Making sure we have clean, pure fresh water.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel (D) has endorsed Miller for the public works post.

Miller was first elected to Congress in 2002 following eight years as secretary of state. She became chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which handles the internal administration of the House of Representatives, along with election policy, in 2013. Miller also serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Homeland Security Committee, and is a former member of the Armed Services Committee.

Most of Miller’s experience has been at the state and local level. Prior to her 1994 election as secretary of state, Miller spent two years as Macomb County treasurer and prior to that was supervisor of Harrison Township for 12 years. As secretary of state, Miller was in charge of elections and motor vehicles for the state.

While unusual for a sitting member of Congress to seek a county or city office, it has happened in the past. In 2005, then U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) unsuccessfully sought New York’s mayoralty. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (D) was elected to his perch in City Hall in 1977 directly from Congress, in a race where he defeated then U.S. Rep. Herman Badillo and former U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug in the Democratic primary. Two former members of Congress currently hold county government office, with Democrat Hilda Solis serving on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper serving as county executive of Erie County, Penn. Solis ran for the LA county board in 2014 a year after leaving President Barack Obama’s cabinet, where she served as labor secretary. LA county supervisors are considered among the most powerful county officials in the country.

Miller did not address the 2018 gubernatorial speculation in her video, keeping the focus instead on water.

“We need to make sure that the water we drink is pure,” she said.