Republican Tim Miller hopes to take on Collin Peterson
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Tim Miller is fighting to win the Republican endorsement to take on longtime Democrat Collin Peterson for a seat in the U.S. House.
He hopes to use his experience as a small business owner, Army veteran and state representative (specializing in agricultural issues) to drive policy that will help rural Minnesota.
If elected, he wants to "do more to grow the nation's agriculture industry, but also diversify and invest to create higher-paying jobs, improve education by getting government out of the way and allow for more choice."
He wants to target "burdensome regulations and red tape that have killed economic growth at all levels, support conservative principles like protecting life at all stages, and fix our healthcare crisis once and for all."
A lifelong entrepreneur, Miller will have at least two competitors at the Republican endorsing convention in May — Matt Prosch, who owns a small trucking company in Lake Benton, and David Hughes, an Air Force veteran who won the endorsement two years ago to challenge Peterson.
Since 2014, Miller has represented District 17A in the Minnesota House — which encompasses all or parts of the counties of Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Renville and Swift, with Montevideo the biggest city.
In an interview, Miller talked about some of his ideas. On healthcare, for example, he authored a successful bill allowing rural cooperatives to offer health care for their members. "It brings options to producers, it has very competitive rates," he said. "There are six plans to choose from — it's a good option for a lot of people in agriculture, and it's a totally free-market solution." Going forward as a nation, he said, "We're going to have to be innovative and forward-thinking," on healthcare and other issues.
Government policy on taxes and regulation has a big impact, and he'd like to see less of both.
As vice chair of the Agriculture Finance Committee in the Minnesota House, he said he successfully led efforts to roll back unnecessarily burdensome state regulations that have gotten in the way of agribusiness. Notably, Miller stood up against legislation backed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency he says has resulted in devastating regulatory restraints on the sugar beet and ethanol industries.
Miller says he is interested in getting things done: "We need to focus on the jobs, we need to focus on the economy," he said. "I'm not big on social engineering — the purpose of business is to make money, the purpose of a job is to earn money for your family, the purpose of agriculture is to produce food and make money off it."
When it comes to President Trump's rhetoric about ending the North American Free Trade Association, which would hurt American agriculture, he says you have to separate Trump's tweets from his deeds.
"Let's see what comes out of his actually policy, instead of the rhetoric," Miller said. "What's good for agriculture is not necessarily good for manufacturing and vice versa. We do have a problem with companies that fled the U.S. We want them back, but we also want to send our pork overseas ... I've seen President Trump make a statement, get everyone all worked up, then come to the table and get it all worked out. The president is not going to do something that hurts agriculture."
Miller doesn't believe in specific term limits, but says the 28 years that Rep. Peterson has spent in office is too long.
During those 28 years, things have changed for the worse in rural Minnesota, Miller says. "Loss of jobs, loss of population, loss of businesses — why do we want to preside over the decline of rural Minnesota? We need someone who wants to be a champion for rural Minnesota, that's what I plan to be."
Miller, 51, lives in Prinsburg, population 499, with his wife Cherie and their blended family of seven children and four grandchildren. The parents of a son who is on the Autism spectrum, they are active in several charitable and support based organizations, including Peer Connect — a group for parents with autistic children; Heartland Girls Ranch of Benson — a home for troubled girls; and the Bethany Christian Services adoption agency.
Miller owned a painting contracting company after college called Signature Painting, and he now runs his own consulting firm, Development Partners, that assists corporate and nonprofit entities with strategic development needs.