WASHINGTON — Representative Brad Miller, who has spent a decade in Congress working for consumer protections, said Wednesday that he would not seek another term rather than run against his longtime political ally and friend.
"My only two options are to run in a primary with David Price or not to run," Miller said. "I have talked to a lot of friends who have supported David and me. Some would support David. And some would support me. But none of them want to see a primary between us."
Miller planned to hold a press conference this morning to announce and discuss his decision. As of Wednesday, he had not told Price.
The state's Republican-led legislature redrew the Triangle's districts this summer, turning the 13th into a strongly Republican district and making the 4th District, which Price represents, a Democratic stronghold.
The 58-year-old Miller, a Raleigh attorney, has represented the 13th District since 2002. Gathering his thoughts, Miller stood behind his Capitol Hill desk Wednesday afternoon looking tired but also somewhat relieved. Miller said he had struggled for months with the decision. In the end, Miller said he didn't have the desire to put their mutual supporters through a divisive Democratic primary.
While many had speculated he might step down instead of facing his former political mentor, Miller has been acting like a candidate.
Two weeks ago, he attended Martin Luther King Jr. observances in Fayetteville, which was to be part of the new 4th District. He touted his brand of politics as more in sync with today's Democrats.
He told The News & Observer then that he was more progressive than Price. Price countered that there was "a heavy, heavy overlap" in their records.
Miller had hoped the courts would make a primary battle unnecessary, but he said it now looked inevitable after Friday's decision by a three-judge panel not to postpone the May 8 primary.
He said neither Price nor anyone in the Democratic party asked him to step down.
As of Sept. 30, 2011, Miller had $187,000 in campaign funds. Price had $128,000.
While he didn't say he would lose to Price, Miller acknowledged he was the underdog. He noted that he had never represented Durham County or Orange County, while Price had formerly represented parts of Wake County that are part of the new district.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Miller broke the news to his staff of 20. Several broke down in tears.
Chief of Staff Ryan Hedgepath cited their work on predatory lending legislation and helping form the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as examples of work the staff can be proud of.
"There are a lot of members who spent a lot of time accumulating seniority and never leave their mark," he said. "This office has left their mark."
The American Civil Liberties Union gave Miller a rating of 88, according to the Almanac of American Politics, while the American Conservative Union gave him a 0 rating.
Republicans have criticized Miller by tying him to Obama's economic plans.
Miller, who served in the state Senate before he was elected to Congress, did not say what he would do once his term is up in December.
While some have suggested he could run again after Price retires, Miller said he didn't think he would return to office, noting that he would essentially be a freshman and lose much of his seniority. He said that he's open to private and public sector jobs but that regardless of his next job, he hopes to remain in the public debate on financial matters, possibly writing op-ed pieces and continuing to blog.
He half-joked that maybe there is a position at the White House for him.
"It's been a very long time since I've done a résumé, but I really do not know. I assume I will not be unemployable."
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