Washington Bureau

08.12.13

Joe Miller Hopes "Surveillance State" Will Be Winning Issue In 2014

The Alaska Senate hopeful is making privacy "a major component" of his campaign

Could the NSA scandal propel Alaska Republican Joe Miller to the U.S. Senate in 2014?

In 2010, Miller, a Sarah Palin backed conservative insurgent, seemed on the verge on being elected to the Senate after besting incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski in a primary. But then Murkowski decided to run as a write-in candidate in the general election and pulled off an improbable victory. The result left Miller a footnote to the 2010 election cycle as one of several prominent Tea Partier members to win their primary but lose the general; the difference being that he lost in November to another, albeit more moderate Republican, not a Democrat.

Miller is back in 2014 and hoping to defeat Democratic incumbent Mark Begich. Miller first has to face yet another tough intraparty primary against an establishment Republican, this time matching up against Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. In both races though, Miller is confident that he has an ace in the hole in his strong support for privacy. 

In an interview with The Daily Beast at the Family Leader Summit in Iowa, Miller said “the growth of the surveillance state” would be “a major component” of his campaign. He warned “I really do see a government that is creating effectively a dossier on every person in the country. I don’t know how you can maintain freedom in that regard.”

But while he saw this is a threat to civil liberties, he also saw it as “a coalition builder” and a way for him to win over Democrats. “There are a lot of people even on the left that I talk to that see that as their number one issue” said Miller. “They are willing to hold their nose and vote for someone who might be more of a traditional conservative on other issues. They do know that I’m genuine when I say that I view this as threat to liberty and I’m willing to do anything in my power to stop it.”

Miller was also sanguine about the possibility of facing another three-way race, telling The Daily Beast “we don’t expect it, it certainly doesn’t look like the dynamic is shaping up for that.” The Alaska Republican though faces an uphill battle to reach Capitol Hill. In recent polling from PPP, Miller was behind by more than 20 points in both the Republican primary against Treadwell and a prospective general election against Begich.