Believe it or not, the 2014 election season is already heating up. A Democratic political action committee has picked its top ten Republican House targets for next year. One is a San Bernardino Congressman who's served on the Hill since 1999.
Gary Miller represented Diamond Bar for a dozen years. New Congressional boundaries put him in the same district as another GOP stalwart, Ed Royce. So, last year, Miller ran — and won — in the newly- drawn 31st district in San Bernardino.
Andy Stone with the Democratic House Majority PAC calls Miller "the most endangered Republican incumbent in the entire country." Stone says Miller's new district is "overwhelmingly Democratic," with a large Latino population. Voter registration in the district does favor Democrats, though there is a large contingent of people who claim a third party or none at all.
Because of California’s new “Top Two” rules, Miller ended up defeating another Republican in November. But in the primary, Democratic candidates garnered 48 percent of the votes in the district. The top vote getter among the Democratic candidates was a Latino, Pete Aguilar.
Stone says Miller's hardline stance on immigration reform will hurt him with Latino constituents. Miller supports tougher border security, and ensuring that Americans get first crack at available jobs. But he says dealing with the estimated 11 million undocumented already here in this country is complicated.
"There’s no way you’re going to round them all up and send them to where ever they came from," Miller told KPCC. He says he’s “anxious” for Congress to debate comprehensive immigration reform, but has yet to see a proposal "specific enough that warrants debate."
Miller twice co-sponsored a bill that would limit citizenship of babies born in the U.S. to those with a parent who’s either a member of the military, a citizen or a legal resident. Miller says the bill addresses the problem of birth tourism – pregnant women who come to the U.S. to give birth in order to claim automatic citizenship for their infant. He cites the recent news of a birthing house in the Chino Hills.
Miller says he’s not surprised he’s being targeted by the Democratic PAC, though he suggests the focus on immigration is “political pandering” designed to make him “look bad.” He says he won every demographic in his last election.
The House Majority PAC is optimistically named to reflect Democrats' hopes to regain control of the chamber. The PAC spent $36 million on 2012 House races nationwide, including four California races won by challengers: Ami Bera, Raul Ruiz, Scott Peters, and Julia Brownley. Nearly three-quarters of a million dollars was spent on the Brownley race in just the June primary.
Miller is the only Californian on the PAC's 2014 target list.