Four years after he won the Republican Party nomination for U.S. Senate only to lose in a historic general election write-in campaign to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, Joe Miller once again is stumping for his party’s nomination to run for the U.S Senate, this time for the seat held by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.
Begich is running for re-election with only token opposition in the primary.
Waging what he called “a David and Goliath campaign,” and describing himself as “the only millionaire not running,” Miller faces two strong Republican candidates, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan.
On Father’s Day, Miller, 47, of Fairbanks visited Homer for what he called a town meeting at the Best Western Bidarka Inn.
About 60 people showed up to listen to Miller. Local Miller volunteer Barnabas Firth of Anchor Point introduced the Yale Law School and West Point U.S. Military Academy graduate and Gulf War combat veteran.
“I have come to the conclusion there is only one candidate who truly speaks to the things that need to be spoken,” Firth said. “We cannot give up on this country yet. We have got to fight. We have got to hold on to what we have and restore what we lost. Are you the man?” he asked Miller.
In about a 45-minute speech, Miller sought to answer that question. Miller portrayed himself as a pro-constitution, anti-establishment conservative.
“The fact of it is, we have two parties doing basically the same thing in this country,” Miller said. “They’ll use these issues they see as one that activates the people, but then they go back to Washington, D.C., and what do they do? Follow the money.”
Miller said he’s not against Republican Party values, though. “I hold the Republican platform second to none,” he said. “The problem is our leadership has gotten away from that.”
Miller said when he was a boy, his father told him Miller would have a better future.
“That’s not the attitude kids have now,” Miller said. “Wages have stagnated.”
People are working twice as hard but making the same wage adjusted for inflation as they did 10 years ago. What economic expansion America has enjoyed has come from small businesses, Miller said — and those businesses are threatened by things like the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
“Obamacare is not a compromise issue,” Miller said. “Sarah Palin said death panels will become a reality. That’s a fact. Your treatment is going to be decided by the government — you’re going to lose treatment options.”
Things like the Law of the Sea Treaty are taking away freedoms, Miller said.
According to the U.S. State Department, the Law of the Sea Treaty, also known as the Law of the Sea Convention, sets up a framework governing uses of the oceans, and protects and advances a broad range of U.S. interests, including U.S. national security and economic interests. Miller calls it a “super EPA,” or Environmental Protection Agency.
“This is all about supplanting America, that bright shining city on the hill. There is no other place to go when we lose our freedom. ... This is the last stand,” he said.
Miller also criticized Obama for what he called the president’s “upside down” foreign policy. From Russia to China to Syria to Iraq, “we have a weak president who acts in ways that are adverse to the country,” he said.
The Republican Party leadership isn’t much better. Is it serving the country’s values? Miller asked.
“The answer is no. Well, the people of Virginia have answered that question,” he said, referring to the defeat of incumbent Rep. Eric Cantor, House Majority Whip, by David Brat in the Virginia Republican Party primary. That defeat shows why the pundits and polls are wrong, Miller said.
“That was a 43-point spread between what the pundits are saying. That’s not dissimilar with what happened to us in the primary,” he said, referring to the 2010 election.
More recent polls show Miller trailing in third place behind Sullivan and Treadwell. In a recent Daily Caller/Vox Populi poll of likely Republican voters, 32 percent said they would vote for Sullivan, 23 percent for Treadwell and 15 percent for Miller. That poll also has 31 percent saying they’re undecided. Miller said polling by Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore shows Miller leading in the Railbelt — except for Anchorage.
“The establishment, they don’t want you to understand what’s happening to the leadership in the country,” Miller said. “We want to get the country back on track so our children and grandchildren will have a future.”
Miller said Alaskans should be less expectant of federal handouts. “The fact is, we’re going to lose federal money, we’re gong to lose federal earmarks,” he said. “As long as the federal government remains in insolvent positions, we’re going to get less and less.”
Miller said the federal government has no legitimate role in most of the federal land holdings it has.
“We want title back, that’s what we want ultimately,” Miller said. “I pledge to do what I can to increase access (to federal lands).”
Despite the other candidates raising more funds and outspending him, Miller said he sees several things that give him encouragement. In recent straw polls, he won over Sullivan and Treadwell.
Frustrated by what he called unfavorable media coverage in 2010, Miller set up his own online media site, JoeMiller.us. He also has a strong Facebook and Twitter presence, he said.
“We now have the ability to get the word out, but not just get the word out — counter the lies as well,” Miller said.
People also are supporting him with campaign donations, with the average at about $75 or $100 each.
“It really is, just like the last time, it is the people,” he said. “You know where the money’s coming from? It’s coming from people who love the constitution.”
In response to written questions from the audience, Miller said he’s opposed to judicial overreach, like federal court decisions that have overturned state constitutional amendments like Alaska’s which define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“It’s pretty unconscionable that a federal judge would use the constitution to take that choice from the states,” Miller said.
In response to a question on immigration, Miller said he supports legal immigration, but opposes people “jumping ahead in line” by trying to get amnesty. He cited his son-in-law, a Mexican national, who is trying to immigrate to the U.S. legally.
When asked if he identifies with the Tea Party, Miller said, “I’m hesitant to call this a Tea Party movement. But it’s different things to different people. I embrace everybody and anybody who wants to get us back to constitutional values.”
On two propositions on the ballot, one to repeal Senate Bill 21, the change in Alaska’s oil tax structure, and another to legalize marijuana, Miller said he will vote no against the SB 21 repeal — but “with hesitancy,” he said. The oil tax structure in SB 21 needs to be allowed to work, and industry needs predictability, he said.
SB 21 is on the primary ballot, and three initiatives, including the one on pot, are on the general election ballot.
On marijuana legalization, while Miller said he’s against it, he supports a state’s right to mandate legalization.
“It’s not a federal issue,” he said.
Firth said Kenai Peninsula supporters of Miller have set up a Facebook page, Kenai Peninsula Residents for Joe Miller. For more information, also visit JoeMiller.us.