MILLER, Candice S.

MILLER, Candice S.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
1954–

Biography

With extensive experience in state and local politics before coming to Congress, Candice S. Miller wielded significant influence during her 14 years in the House, serving as vice chair of the Homeland Security Committee and as chair of the Committee on House Administration—the only woman to lead a standing committee at the time. On Capitol Hill, Miller focused on water quality issues in the Great Lakes, protected military installments in her district, shaped national security policy, and promoted the auto industry.

Candice Miller was born Candice Snider on May 7, 1954, in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, to Don and Jenny Snider. She graduated from Lakeshore High School in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and attended Macomb County Community College in Warren, Michigan, and Northwood University in Midland, Michigan.1 Her family ran a marina on Michigan’s Clinton River. Sailing, she said, “was our livelihood but it was also our family sport and our family hobby.”2 Initially discouraged from sailboat racing because of her gender, Miller nonetheless became an experienced sailor and joined the first all-women crew to sail the Port Huron to Mackinac Island regatta in 1972—one of many gender barriers she broke in her life. In 1984 she married Donald Miller an Air Force pilot and circuit judge. The couple raised Wendy, Candice Miller’s daughter from a previous marriage.3

Sailing also served as an entrée to politics for Miller when she worked to stop a tax increase on marinas. “I stormed down to the township board meeting to tell them off; next thing I know, I am running for office,” she recalled.4 Miller, at the time a single mother with a three-year-old daughter, launched a campaign for a seat on the Harrison township board of trustees in 1979. A year later, she won election as the Harrison township supervisor where she served from 1980 to 1992. Buoyed by her experience in local office, Miller set her sights on Congress in 1986. After defeating four Republican opponents in the primary, she lost to the five-term Democratic incumbent David Edward Bonior in the general election.5

In 1992 Miller ran for Macomb County treasurer and defeated the longtime incumbent Adam Nowakowski.6 Two years later, she defeated another veteran politician to become the first woman to serve as Michigan secretary of state. Miller sought to downplay her historic win. “I’ve never been one to play gender politics,” she later recalled. “I’ve been a series of ‘firsts’ as a woman in politics. But I was the secretary of state, not the female secretary of state.”7 In her new position, Miller helped develop fraud-proof driver’s licenses and instituted election reforms. She ultimately served two terms as Michigan’s secretary of state.8

After the 2000 Census, Michigan lost a seat in the House, forcing the state to redraw its congressional map. Heading into the 2002 elections, David Bonior opted to run for governor, opening a seat in the House from a new district that encompassed portions of Macomb County, Port Huron, and much of Michigan’s “thumb” north of Detroit.9 Popular from her time as secretary of state, Miller ran unopposed in the Republican primary and defeated Macomb County prosecutor, Democrat Carl J. Marlinga, in the general election, taking 63 percent of the vote to become the first Republican woman to represent Michigan in Congress in nearly 50 years. In her six re-elections, Miller won by comfortable margins.10

As a first-term lawmaker, Miller successfully petitioned the Republican House leadership for a spot on the powerful Armed Services Committee. “When you think about the issues facing us—Iraq, terrorism, homeland security, having a strong national defense—there’s never been a more important time to be on Armed Services,” she said in 2003.11 Miller served on Armed Services until 2008 when she left to join the Committee on Homeland Security. On Homeland Security, Miller chaired the Border and Maritime Subcommittee and served as vice chair of the full committee from the 112th Congress (2011–2013) until her resignation from the House on December 31, 2016. She also received assignments on the Government Operations Committee during the 108th and 109th Congresses (2003–2007), and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where she served from 2007 to 2016. In 2013 Miller became one of just three women in history to chair the Committee on House Administration. Miller had earlier served on House Administration during the 109th Congress (2005–2007).12

From her seat on Transportation and Infrastructure, Miller worked on policy to keep the Great Lakes free from contaminants and to guard the lakes from invasive species. “Those of us who grew up along the shores of the Great Lakes understand that they are more than just a recreational joy, they are a way of life,” Miller observed.13 When President George W. Bush vetoed the Water Resources Development Act—a bill to combat low water levels in the Great Lakes which she helped draft—Miller criticized the President’s decision to block what she called a “vital investment” in the health of the lakes.14 Miller also opposed plans to use the Great Lakes to alleviate water shortages in other regions of the country.15

With her lengthy political résumé, Miller quickly made her mark among House Republicans. But in 2003 she faced a setback when she was accused of pressuring a House colleague, Michigan Republican Nick H. Smith, to change his vote on a Medicare reform bill—a priority of the Republican leadership and a measure Miller favored. When the House Ethics Committee looked into the incident— which included an investigation of Majority Leader Thomas Dale DeLay of Texas as well—it ultimately admonished Miller, DeLay, and Smith.16

Given Michigan’s deep ties to the auto industry, Miller worked to protect car manufacturers during the Great Recession and criticized opponents of federal loans to the auto industry. “We tried to remind our colleagues of everything that this industry has meant to our great nation, and again we received indifference and we were told, just let them go into bankruptcy.”17

Miller voted in favor of the massive auto industry rescue bill in 2009, but did not support the economic stimulus package that year, in part because she felt it did not do enough to help America’s car manufacturers and their employees.18 In 2009 she joined Democrat Betty Sutton of Ohio to introduce the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act (CARS). The CARS Act included the popular measure “cash for clunkers” in which customers received vouchers to purchase vehicles with better fuel economy. “This will stimulate auto sales, which is clearly the way forward,” Miller remarked.19 But she opposed what she said were overly strict fuel-efficiency standards for new vehicles, arguing that they threatened a fragile auto industry.20

From her seat on the Armed Services Committee, Miller protected the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in her district, and in 2005 she successfully kept it off the Base Realignment and Closure list. The Selfridge Air Base, which her husband formerly commanded, employed thousands in the Detroit area.21 In 2009 Miller used her position on the Homeland Security Committee to help secure federal money to create a pilot program at the base to enhance security and intelligence operations along America’s northern border.22 And in 2014 she successfully added an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that prevented the Air Force from divesting the A-10 aircraft housed at Selfridge. “For the past 13 years, the A-10 has been the champion and workhorse aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan. It might be old, but it’s effective, and there currently isn’t another aircraft that can take its place,” Miller’s office said in a press release.23

As chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, Miller—whose district included the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, a major border crossing between Canada and the United States— sought to strengthen security along America’s borders, and looked to tighten travel restrictions.24 In 2015 her Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act passed the House. “We simply cannot give people from other countries special access to our country if we don’t have all of the information that we absolutely need to ensure that they are not a threat to our national security,” Miller warned.25 Miller also sponsored the Border and Maritime Coordination Improvement Act in 2016 which authorized the creation of joint task forces to improve communication between border and maritime agencies in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).26

Reducing illegal immigration became a primary focus during Miller’s time on the Homeland Security Committee. In 2010 she opposed the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which offered residency protection to young undocumented immigrants who had been brought to America by their parents.27 And in 2012 her bill requiring DHS to devise a program to tighten border control in the Southwest passed the House.28 She also sponsored a measure to modify the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by replacing the word “persons” with “citizens” to exclude undocumented immigrants from the reapportionment process.29 “I don’t mind losing a seat because American citizens have moved somewhere,” Miller exclaimed. “But to lose a congressional seat because of illegal immigrants is outrageous.”30

In the 113th and 114th Congresses (2013–2017), Miller served as chair of the Committee on House Administration, which controls the internal operations of the House of Representatives and oversaw federal elections. She was the only woman to chair a House standing committee in either Congress. During her two terms leading the committee, Miller reduced costs in the House by hundreds of millions of dollars, instituted new transparency measures to enable the public to access Members’ expenses, and worked to make sure servicemen and women overseas could easily vote in elections back home. Under Miller’s leadership in the 113th Congress (2013–2015), the House Administration Committee also worked to improve communication and outreach to Member offices, offering new professional development opportunities. In the 114th Congress (2015– 2017), the committee improved access to new technology in the House, worked to limit taxpayer funding for presidential elections, and marked up the Election Assistance Commission Termination Act, which would have canceled certain federal election programs.31

In 2016 Miller surprised many when she announced her decision to not seek re-election. “We all know when it is time to move on,” she said. But Miller did not step away from public office entirely.32 A few weeks later she announced her candidacy for Macomb County public works commissioner to continue her work on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee at the local level. Miller easily defeated the longtime incumbent Anthony Marrocco in 2016 and currently serves as the public works commissioner back home in Macomb County.33

Footnotes

1“Biography,” official website of Representative Candice Miller, accessed 6 November 2002, http://www.candice-miller.com/bio-1.html (site discontinued).

2Heather Burns, “Port Huron-to-Mackinac Island Sailboat Race,” 17 July 2001, Port Huron Times Herald (MI): 1C.

3Jameson Cook, “Judge Retires Early to Spend Time with His Wife,” 10 December 2010, Macomb Daily (Clinton Township, MI), https://www.macombdaily.com/news/judge-retires-early-to-spend-time-with-his-wife/article_d397b378-ecb7-5e61-914e-0f5a76c7f6de.html; Politics in America, 2008 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2007): 527.

4David Shepardson, “Miller Will Not Seek Re-Election,” 6 March 2015, Detroit News: A9.

5Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

6Christopher Cook, “Macomb Treasurer Wants Austin’s Office,” 24 February 1994, Detroit Free Press: 2B.

7Deb Price, “Miller Notches Another ‘First,’” 7 November 2002, Detroit News: 7A.

8Peggy Walsh-Sarnecki, Dennis Niemiec, and Bill McGraw, “Miller Easily Wins Race for Congress,” 6 November 2002, Detroit Free Press: 1; Price, “Miller Notches Another ‘First.’”

9Walsh-Sarnecki et al., “Miller Easily Wins Race for Congress.”

10“Election Statistics, 1920 to Present.”

11Deb Price, “Mich. GOP Grabs Clout on Hill,” 10 January 2003, Detroit News: 3A.

12Chad Selweski, “Candice Miller Sets Sights on House Homeland Security Chairman,” 21 November 2012, Macomb Daily (MI), https://www. macombdaily.com/news/candice-miller-sets-sights-on-house-homeland-security-chairman/article_79324846-6f88-5b3a-80a8-f55ff84e984d.html. The other women to chair the House Administration Committee prior to Miller were Mary T. Norton of New Jersey and Juanita Millender-McDonald of California.

13“Reps. Dingell, Miller, LaHood Great Lakes Legislation Signed into Law,” official website of Representative Debbie Dingell, press release, 22 December 2016, https://debbiedingell.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=1357.

14Candice Miller, “Veto of National Water Project Funding Endangers the Health of the Great Lakes,” 6 November 2007, Detroit Free Press: A8.

15Almanac of American Politics, 2012 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011): 850.

16“The House Ethics Committee Voted Last Week to Publicly Admonish Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Michigan GOP Reps,” 4 October 2004, Roll Call: 1.

17Congressional Record, House, 111th Cong., 1st sess. (14 May 2009): H5638.

18Politics in America, 2010 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2009): 528.

19Kristyne E. Demske, “Speeding into the 21st Century,” 25 March 2009, West Bloomfield Beacon (Warren, MI): 7A.

20Justin Hyde, “House Talk on Plug-in Cars Erupts,” 13 July 2007, Detroit Free Press: E1.

21David Jesse, “Officials Working to Keep Selfridge Off Closure List,” 28 December 2004, Port Huron Times Herald: A1; Politics in America, 2014 (Washington, DC: CQ-Roll Call, Inc., 2013): 514.

22Mark Hornbeck and George Hunter, “Feds Give $30M for Selfridge Security Hub,” 5 August 2009, Detroit News: A1; “Full Biography,” official website of Representative Candice Miller, 12 February 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20150212010139/http:/candicemiller.house.gov/about/full-biography.

23Congressional Record, House, 113th Cong., 2nd sess. (20 May 2014): H4549; “House Passes Defense Funding Bill with Miller’s Amendment to Save the A-10s,” official website of Representative Candice Miller, press release, 20 June 2014, https://web.archive.org/web/20141206164946/http:// candicemiller.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/house-passes-defense-funding-bill-with-miller-s-amendment-to-save-the-a.

24“Full Biography”; “House to Vote on Rep. Miller’s Visa Waiver Program Legislation Next Week,” official website of Representative Candice Miller, press release, 3 December 2015, https://web.archive.org/web/20160907070726/http://candicemiller.house.gov/media-center/pressreleases/house-to-vote-on-rep-miller-s-visa-waiver-program-legislation-nextweek; Todd Spangler, “Miller’s Bill Restricting Visa Waiver Program Passes U.S. House,” 9 December 2015, Detroit Free Press: A3.

25Congressional Record, House, 114th Cong., 1st sess. (8 December 2015): H9050.

26Congressional Record, House, 114th Cong., 2nd sess. (13 April 2016): H1661.

27“Miller: American Citizens Are Forced to Foot the Bill for Illegals in DREAM Act,” office website of Representative Candice Miller, press release, 8 December 2010, https://web.archive.org/web/20121017181227/http://candicemiller.house.gov/press-release/miller-american-citizens-are-forced-footbill-illegals-dream-act.

28Congressional Record, House, 112th Cong., 2nd sess. (27 November 2012): H6433.

29Almanac of American Politics, 2014 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013): 882–883; Jennifer Yachnin, “Amendment on Census Debated,” 7 December 2005, Roll Call: 1.

30Ruby Bailey, “Noncitizens Are Hurting Michigan, Miller Says,” 14 December 2005, Detroit Free Press: B1.

31Politics in America, 2014: 514; Melissa Nann Burke, “Miller Readies for Transition from D.C. to County Position,” 27 December 2016, Detroit News: A7; House Committee on House Administration, Second Annual Report on the Activities of the Committee on House Administration During the 113th Congress, 113th Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 721 (2014); House Committee on House Administration, Report on the Activities of the Committee on House Administration During the 114th Congress, 114th Cong., 2nd sess., H. Rept. 901 (2016); Election Assistance Commission Termination Act, H.R. 195, 114th Cong. (2015); House Committee on House Administration, To Reduce Federal Spending and the Deficit by Terminating Taxpayer Financing of Presidential Election Campaigns, Part 1, 114th Cong., 1st sess., H. Rept. 362 (2015).

32David Shepardson, “Miller Will Not Seek Re-Election,” 6 March 2015, Detroit News: A9.

33Todd Spangler, “Miller Seeks Job as Public Works Commissioner,” 24 March 2016, Detroit Free Press: A5; “Public Works Commissioner: Candice Miller,” Macomb County public works commission, accessed 6 March 2020, https://publicworks.macombgov.org/index.php/PublicWorks-Commissioner.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

University of Oklahoma
The Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive, Department of Communication

Norman, OK
Videocassette: 1994, 1 videocassette. The commercials used during Candice Miller's 1994 campaign for Secretary of State in Michigan, Republican Party.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

"Candice Miller" in Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U. S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2006.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Armed Services
  • House Committee - Government Reform
    • Regulatory Affairs - Chair
  • House Committee - Homeland Security
    • Border and Maritime Security - Chair
  • House Committee - House Administration - Chair
  • House Committee - Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
  • House Committee - Transportation and Infrastructure
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