Miller Reverses Course, Will Challenge Shuler

January 15, 2010

After passing on the race in October, Republican businessman Jeff Miller told local papers Thursday that he plans to seek the GOP nomination to take on North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler (D) this fall.

Miller, who founded HonorAir in 2006 to fly World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to tour the World War II Memorial and other D.C. sites, was recruited by party officials last fall before he announced he wouldn’t run. He was welcomed back to the race with open arms by the National Republican Congressional Committee on Friday.

“We’re delighted Jeff Miller is joining the race; he’s the kind of honest, selfless public servant that western Carolina sorely lacks in Congress,” said spokesman Andy Sere.

When he originally decided against challenging Shuler last fall Miller said he wanted to spend more time with his family. But he told the Times-News this week that his wife, son, very close friends and veterans asked him to reconsider that decision.

Miller won’t have a clear shot to the nomination this fall. Among those Republicans who have already filed are Hendersonville Mayor Greg Newman, businessman Kenneth West, and ophthalmologist Dan Eichenbaum.

While Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) carried the 11th district by 5 points in last year’s presidential race, Shuler won a second term by beating Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower (R) by 26 points in a race that national Republicans did not target.

In his upcoming Federal Election Commission report Shuler will report more than $1.25 million in cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

CQ Politics currently rates the general election race Likely Democratic.
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