Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Matt Miller Jumps into Race for Rep. Henry Waxman's Seat


When Matt Miller left his job in the Bill Clinton White House in 1995, he knew he wanted to run for office. His soon-to-be wife, however, had a different plan.

"She said, 'You can do that or you can marry me, but you can't do both,' " Miller said. "At the time, I think that was the right choice."

Almost two decades later, she is on board. So Miller, now a Pacific Palisades resident, as well as a progressive thinker, radio host, frequent television commentator and columnist, is ready to embark on his first political race.

A Democrat, Miller will join a crowded field to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman, a 40-year veteran of Congress. Waxman will step down in early January when his term expires. The primary election will take place in June, with the two top finishers - regardless of political party - meeting in the November general election.

The district is heavily Democratic, and Miller was quick to point out his progressive bona fides during an interview Friday afternoon. He was a senior adviser in Clinton's Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995. And he said Democrats must be even more bold than they are now.

"We know the right words - 'opportunity,' 'upward mobility' and 'economic security' - but we are not proposing any polices to make those things real," Miller said. "Instead, what voters get when they elect Democrats now is a kinder, gentler decline. And that is not good enough."

Around Los Angeles, Miller is probably best known for hosting a weekly political talk show on KCRW called "Left, Right & Center." Airing on Friday, the show is a weekly roundup of political events in which Miller, the moderator, is joined by at least two guests - one of the right, and one on the left. He announced his candidacy on Friday's show and said he would take a leave of absence to pursue the campaign.

Miller said he knows that if he wins, he will likely join a House of Representatives led by Republicans. But he said he would try to work with GOP representatives, while also remaining patient. He noted that big issues - like income equality, poor public schools in urban areas and pricey university tuition - will not be solved quickly.

"I'm not a career politician," Miller said. "I'd be trying to move conversation and move public policy over a period of time."

Miller has plenty of competition for the seat, including from candidates who are well known. The two best-known Democratic candidates are former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, who ran for mayor, and Torrance state Sen. Ted Lieu, who currently represents more than 80 percent of the congressional district in the state Legislature. The best-known independent in the race is Marianne Williamson, author of four books that have reached the top spot on the New York Times best-seller list.

The district stretches from the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Malibu, and goes inland as far as Beverly Hills, Mid-City Los Angeles and Calabasas.


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