In a surprise announcement Wednesday, Republican Congressman Gary Miller of San Bernardino said he'll retire from Congress after this term.
In a statement, the eight-term lawmaker said "family circumstances dictate that I must leave this great institution."
Miller had been labeled the "most vulnerable incumbent on the Republican side" by political analyst David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. He called Miller’s win two years ago in a majority Democratic district “a fluke.”
In 2012, redistricting put Miller in the same Orange County district as fellow Republican Congressman Ed Royce. Miller chose to run in the 31st Congressional district in San Bernardino. Four Democrats split the vote in that June primary and Miller ended up in the runoff against another Republican, then-State Senator Bob Dutton.
The 31st Congressional District is majority Democratic and almost half Latino. Democrats — including the House Majority Political Action Committee — made Miller a top target for the mid-terms.
Democrats running for that seat include Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, who has the party's official backing, attorney Eloise Reyes, who has the support of Emily’s List, former Congressman Joe Baca, and San Bernardino school board member Danny Tillman.
Assemblyman Curt Hagman, head of the San Bernardino Republican Party, says the announcement was quite a “shock.” He says he’s not interested in running for the seat and says “smarter brains than me” are discussing who will be the GOP candidate. Hagman says his priority until this afternoon’s announcement was getting Miller re-elected.
Miller said when he came to Congress in 1999, his children were grown and out of the house. "Today," he said in his statement, "we have a full house again. My wife and I are raising our three grandchildren."
Miller thanked his staff "for their tireless dedication to the constituents they serve" and his family "for their years of patience and support for my time away in Washington." He also thanked constituents "for entrusting me with the honor of representing them in Congress.”
Prior to his 15 years in Congress, Gary Miller served as Mayor of Diamond Bar and in the state Assembly.