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During the eight years she was Michigan’s secretary of state, Republican Rep. Candice S. Miller helped craft election policy that became the model elsewhere after the 2000 presidential race’s Florida recount debacle.
She joked, however, that her legacy in that office might be tied to another accomplishment: shortening the average wait time for services at the state Department of Motor Vehicles from more than four hours to under five minutes.
“One of the reasons I was one of the highest vote-getters in Michigan history, I think!” she said, laughing.
But she isn’t kidding. In an interview with CQ Roll Call last week, Miller brought up both examples as reasons Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, tapped her to serve as the next chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, the panel that oversees election law as well as day-to-day operations of Congress.
Miller’s appointment to one of the least well-known congressional committees made national news after Republican leaders installed only men in the chairman slots for the other standing committees of the 113th Congress. Some political watchers also saw her selection as a consolation prize for the race she’d lost a few days earlier to serve as chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee, where she has made her legislative mark.
However, Miller has a strong case to dispute the kinds of speculation that would demean her selection. She maintains that her tenure as secretary of state, one previous term on the House Administration Committee and her record as a fiscal conservative were all appealing reasons for Boehner to pick her.
In many ways, by virtue of her experiences and her political temperament, she has a lot in common with outgoing Chairman Dan Lungren, R-Calif., who was able to advance the values and goals of his party as chairman of the committee.
Boehner pledged to make the House under his leadership more transparent and technologically advanced. Incidentally, Miller said she already has “a number of ideas” about how to use technology to improve member services. She wouldn’t elaborate, but she said she was drawing from her Michigan initiatives to think about what might work well on Capitol Hill.
“I think about the processes that I go through as far as filing bills ... all the things you want to have at your fingertips which would make you more productive, just like having a BlackBerry makes you more productive,” Miller said. “There’s been a change in the culture, and I really think it’s going to be an exciting time for this committee to really be at the forefront of all of these kinds of things.”