WASHINGTON — Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., is the highest ranking elected official in Illinois promoting Trumpism, and if she wants a second term, she hasn’t made her move yet. Perhaps she is waiting for a signal from former President Donald Trump, that he will help.
Miller is stuck with a bad option: running against another GOP incumbent, either Rep. Rodney Davis or Rep. Michael Bost, in the June Illinois primary. My tea leaf reading and reporting suggest she is looking at a Davis challenge.
Here’s a shorthand way to place Miller on the Republican party spectrum. She is part of the Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wing of the GOP party, with Greene the Georgia Republican who is the pusher of conspiracy theories, from QAnon to that “Jewish Space Laser.” Greene headlined a fundraiser in Illinois for Miller earlier this year.
Indeed, Greene was sitting behind Miller when she made a speech on the House floor on Tuesday against holding Mark Meadows, Trump’s ex-chief of staff, in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with the Jan. 6 select committee subpoena.
The Meadows resolution passed at 11:03 p.m. Tuesday on a 222-to-208 vote. The only two Republicans who backed it were Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who are members of the Democratic-created panel and who voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol attack.
Miller, and her husband, state Rep. Chris Miller — the Trump loyalists live in Oakland in southern Illinois — were both at the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the Capitol insurrection, the first time the Capitol was attacked since the British marched into Washington on Aug. 24, 1814. Miller spoke at the rally — that’s when she said, “Hitler was right on one thing,” though she later apologized.
On the floor Tuesday, Miller made no mention of the attack, instead focusing on defending Trump. Said Miller, “The Jan. 6 commission hates President Trump because he exposed the corruption of the D.C. establishment here in the swamp. This Jan. 6 commission is a disgrace, and anyone who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves.”
On June 30, when the House approved the measure to create the select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, Miller missed the vote. She was touring the southern border with Trump.
She’s called for the impeachment of President Joe Biden a few times: In a Dec. 9 tweet, she said because he did not “defend our borders,” the sort of red meat stuff that plays to the base in the southern and central Illinois Trump districts.
Davis, of Taylorville and Bost, of Murphysboro — both conservatives and co-chairs of Trump’s 2020 Illinois reelection campaign — have declared their runs for 2022 from heavily Republican downstate districts created in the new congressional map drawn by state Democrats.
Davis is running from the new 15th and Bost is in the 12th. They have already rolled out endorsements of local elected officials. Davis has the backing of 32 of the 35 GOP party chairmen in his new district and Bost has a string of mayors, village presidents and sheriffs.
Candidates don’t have to live in the district they want to represent. Miller was raised in Naperville, the Chicago suburb, graduating from Naperville Central High School in 1977.
Miller appears on a path to take on Davis.
Miller campaign senior adviser Isaiah Wartman — who also is Greene’s political adviser — was focused on Davis in responding to Sun-Times questions in an email. He criticized Davis for not wanting to kick Kinzinger and Cheney out of the House GOP conference after they accepted an appointment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be on the Jan. 6 committee.
Pelosi, said Wartman, sees Davis “as an anti-Trump voice like Kinzinger and Cheney.”
CNN’s Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju — a graduate of Hinsdale South High School, class of 1998 — reported this week that Greene, “hoping to boost Miller’s political prospects,” has “been talking her up to Trump and encouraging him to throw his weight behind Miller, according to multiple GOP sources.”
The CNN report continued, “A Trump endorsement would turbocharge the intraparty battle and potentially make things even stickier, something GOP leaders are eager to avoid. So House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has worked behind the scenes to head it off: He has urged Trump to stay out of the primary race, telling the former president that Bost and Davis — who are poised to become committee chairmen if Republicans reclaim the House after next year’s midterms — are both good members, sources said.”
Davis and Bost have the financial edge. As of Sept. 30, Davis has $1,051,173 cash-on-hand to $647,182 for Bost and $426,769 for Miller.
Petitions for the June 28 primary in Illinois can start to be passed on Jan. 13.
THURSDAY: Davis guests on “At The Virtual Table,” the Sun-Times political show I co-host with Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington. We’ll talk politics with Madeleine Doubek, executive director of Change Illinois, and Rachel Hinton, the Sun-Times political writer.