Although I've certainly made no secret of my intention to run for the Maryland Senate again in 2010, I still get questions from people asking me if I'm going to run again and if so, for what office. Therefore, let this be my formal announcement; God willing, I will seek the Maryland Legislative District 27 Senate seat in 2010 as a Republican. Some will greet this news with dismay because they believe 34-year-plus incumbent Senator Thomas V. "Mike" Miller is unbeatable and I should take aim at something more winnable. "Run for county commissioner," they tell me, "you could win that."
I know the arguments and the numbers suggest the crafty redistricting of 2002 that carved up Calvert County and diluted our vote created a "safe" seat for Miller because Prince George's County voters will never elect a Republican. I know Mike Miller can throw his weight around and immediately make things happen to his benefit or my detriment; none of this is a mystery to me.
Still others like to cite the power and influence he wields on behalf of southern Maryland. It is certainly commendable that he can bring home a small portion of the money they’ve taken from us. Other that bringing him glory and making the immediate beneficiaries of his generosity happy, however, I don’t see how his “gifts” do the most good for the most people, which should be the public servant’s first priority.
I keep coming back to the words of Thomas Jefferson, my favorite founding father, who said "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." When people support an elected official or withhold their support from a challenger out of fear, something has gone terribly wrong with our electoral process.
We are at a crossroads in our republic where we must choose this day whether government is to be our servant or our master. If I can encourage the voters that they are in charge, their elected officials are helpless before the power of the secret ballot, and they can repudiate the politics of intimidation and fear, then I will have accomplished a public service far greater than a victory would provide.
I have no personal animus toward Mike Miller. In our few public encounters, he has been nothing but charming and gracious to me and my family. He always asks about my daughter who attends his alma mater and happens to share the same name as one of his girls. I am grateful to him for his support of our church and its campaign against hunger in Calvert County.
I fundamentally disagree, however, with the fiscal policies I've seen him shepherd through the Senate. These policies have placed an undeserved burden on the working families of Maryland, especially young families with children and senior citizens on fixed incomes, many of whom are faced with the very real possibility of leaving the state because they simply can't afford to build a life here. This is a particularly painful decision for our senior citizens whose homes are family treasures they had hoped to pass on to the next generation.
Businesses already here are burdened with taxes and overregulation, forcing them to make cuts to the biggest line in their budgets - their employees. The higher costs they incur in taxes are being passed on to you and me, making the goods and services we buy more expensive. The incentive to start or bring a new business here is gone because Annapolis rolled up the welcome mat with their billion-dollar plus tax package.
Maryland has the 4th highest tax burden, the 5th worst cost of living and the 6th worst cost of doing business in the nation, and yet the General Assembly compulsively taxes and spends while promising us the next fix will work. We are being taken for fools and there are hurting people bearing the brunt of their shoddy planning and policies.
I believe Mike Miller is motivated primarily by the sport of politics and keeping himself and his party in power. If his opponents offer sound alternative proposals for consideration, they will never see the light of day because he controls the floor of the Senate. He recently talked over and interrupted Senator Nancy Jacobs as she discussed a proposal to make a specific taxpayer cost more transparent. When forced by his colleagues to let her finish, he declared her amendment would fail even before a vote was taken, and his statement inevitably led to its defeat. When it comes to his opposition, he would rather, in his own words, "bury them face down in the ground" than concede they have an idea that works for the people of Maryland rather than the one-party monopoly in Annapolis.
Because of his long tenure and public profile, I have seen and heard much about his treatment of colleagues, constituents and even a pastor recently, and I am disappointed in how he has used his position to bully others.
Whether it's his policies, his politics or his demeanor, my belief is that he does not practice leadership as an act of service to others. To leave him unchallenged is to tacitly endorse his positions and behavior and I can't do that. That is why I have chosen to challenge him again.
Of course, it's not enough to have reasons to vote against him. I need to give you reasons to vote for me.
I am a committed Christ follower and unapologetically conservative because I believe in every individual and their God-given potential more than I believe in government.
My priorities in order are my God, my family, my friends and myself, and I would willingly give my life for any of them.
I want people to feel they can come to me about anything and they will get a listening ear and a sympathetic hug. If you don't want your personal space invaded, give me a sign because I love people and I love to hug them because it makes both of us feel loved.
I am inherently suspicious of bureaucracies of all kinds and I abhor groupthink because it presumes that people who share a particular defining characteristic should think, speak and act the same way.
I believe in families, neighbors, communities, local houses of worship, small businesses and local charities because they are closest to the problems of everyday people and have the heart as well as the will to help each other.
I believe people should keep as much of the money they earn through their blood, toil, tears and sweat as possible. It is people spending, saving, investing or paying their debts that stimulates an economy, not government. Government simply takes from you and reallocates it to who knows where; why do we need them to spend our money?
I believe Annapolis must be put on a diet immediately. Everything they do beyond keeping order, providing infrastructure and administering justice ought to be critically reviewed. It may be a worthy cause but is it something government should be doing?
I believe our state budget and the process by which Annapolis makes budget decisions are both irretrievably broken. It is time for annual zero-based budgeting, performance measurement and management for every program, annual performance reviews to determine program relevance and effectiveness, and sunset laws to terminate ineffective or obsolete programs.
I believe Maryland, with its central location on the Eastern seaboard, its natural resources and highly educated workforce, ought to be a magnet for businesses rather than illegal immigrants; at least one of the two is guaranteed to pay taxes.
Low taxes and regulation limited to ensuring fairness in the workplace and public safety will spur business growth and job creation, giving people the dignity and reward of work.
We need to lighten the paperwork burden on small businesses. The cost of compliance with government regulations devours resources that could be reinvested into the business or create more jobs.
I support all means of educating our children - public schools, charter schools, private schools, home schools, virtual schools - because they need to be educated today, not years down the road when the schools that don’t work get their acts together. Parents and children deserve choices for their education for it is their future at stake, and neither the state nor the education bureaucracy should stand in their way.
Before we can make health care accessible, we must make it affordable. We have a shortage of doctors in southern Maryland; find out the causes of the shortage and confront them. Make it affordable for doctors to live and work here. Protect medical professionals from frivolous or malicious litigation. Stop overregulating health insurance providers in Maryland and limiting competition; this only raises prices on Maryland families.
The best question I was asked during the last campaign was "What's to keep you from becoming like all the rest?" I answered that I allow my family, my church and my friends to hold me accountable, and it would devastate me to let them down. Moreover, if I did something dishonorable, even if no one else knew, I would know and God would know. That’s enough for me to stay grounded and avoid the seduction of power.
There’s another assurance I can give you. To quote 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee when he spoke to the Values Voter Summit last year, "I don't come to you, I come from you.” Had I pursued my passion for politics straight out of college, I might have been enclosed in a bubble the rest of my adult life, out of touch with the real needs of people.
God had other plans for me, however. My four-year obligation to the U.S. Air Force stretched to more than nine years of willing service to my country. I got married and we had three children, all of whom I think are pretty cool. I went back to school to get my master’s degree while still working and raising a family.
I know what it’s like to be laid off and not know where your next paycheck is coming from. I know what it’s like to see a sibling spiral into drug and alcohol addiction and not know what to do to help him. I know what it’s like to not have health insurance and pray to God that no one gets sick. I know what it’s like to have no money in the bank and the bills are due and despair sets in because you have nowhere to turn. I know what it’s like to suffer from depression and travel the long road to being “normal” again.
In short, I know what you go through every day to make a way for yourself and your family. Politicians make a lot of promises they can’t keep and sometimes they know it even as they’re speaking. I can make two promises to you that will be easy for me to keep:
First, I will approach every policy decision with the question, “How does this affect the family sitting around the kitchen table?”
And second, I will always be accessible to you and my first instinct will be to come to you, not summon you to me. After all, you are my boss.
I humbly ask for your support. If you’re on Facebook, please visit my politician profile page and become a supporter. You can also follow me on Twitter. Everyone can join Team Ron Miller at our website, which will be tweaked for the campaign but will retain its elegance and ease of use. If you can contribute a small amount to our campaign in these tough times, we thank you for your generous spirit. Let the campaign begin!