ShareThis Page
Political Headlines

Libertarian lives outside Pennsylvania congressional district he hopes to represent

Wes Venteicher
| Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
Drew Miller, 37, of Pittsburgh, is running as a Libertarian candidate for the March 13 special election for Congress in Southwestern Pennsylvanis.
Submitted
Drew Miller, 37, of Pittsburgh, is running as a Libertarian candidate for the March 13 special election for Congress in Southwestern Pennsylvanis.

Drew Miller is a political outsider in more ways than one.

Miller, 37, of Pittsburgh's South Side, is the Libertarian Party's nominee in the March 13 special election race to replace former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. In the past half-century, only two independents have been elected to Congress. No minor-party candidates have been.

What makes Miller even more of an outsider is that he doesn't live in the congressional district he hopes to represent.

The South Side is in Pennsylvania's 14th Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills. The special election is being held in the 18th Congressional District, which includes parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland, Greene and Washington counties.

The Washington Post reported last year that nearly two dozen House members are registered to vote outside the congressional districts they represent.

Miller announced his long-shot campaign by email this week, saying he would offer an alternative for voters seeking a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate aiming to minimize government interference in their private lives.

“I think I have a shot. Even if I don't, I think this race is so close between (Democratic nominee Conor) Lamb and (Republican nominee Rick) Saccone, I could actually be the spoiler between who wins,” Miller said in an interview.

Libertarian Gary Johnson won enough votes in Pennsylvania in the 2016 presidential election to qualify for the party to appear on the ballot in the March special election, a Department of State spokeswoman said. The Green Party also received enough votes to appear, according to the spokeswoman.

Johnson won 2.4 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein won 0.82 percent of the state's votes. Libertarian Senate candidate Edward Clifford III won 3.89 percent of the vote in his race against Republican Pat Toomey, who won the election, and Democrat Katie McGinty.

Miller, an energy lawyer, said the Libertarian parties of Allegheny and Washington counties selected him in a Dec. 20 caucus meeting.

“There wasn't really anybody from Allegheny County that wanted to do it, so I told them I'd throw my hat in the ring,” he said.

He said another woman had been interested in being a candidate but decided to withdraw during the meeting, leaving him with the party's nomination.

Unless a minor-party candidate has a lot of money, they are not likely to make an impact in the race, said Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg.

“If somebody came in with a million dollars to lay on the table as a third-party candidate, they could make an impact. Absent that, I just don't think there's running room,” Gerow said.

Only one race will appear on ballots March 13, and voters are unlikely to turn out to support a third-party candidate, he said.

Miller said his campaign has no money. He said he had to form a nonprofit to start collecting donations, and that process is under way.

He said he plans to try to energize young voters looking for an alternative to the two-party system.

“The odds are against me in terms of the money being spent, but in the same regards I think people need to realize that if there's that much money spent, the candidates are going to be working for the parties themselves and not the constituents,” he said.

Miller served as legal counsel for former state Sen. Jane Orie, R-McCandless, who was convicted in 2012 on state corruption charges for using taxpayer-funded staff to do campaign work. He said he worked in her Cranberry office and wasn't aware of the improper activities while they were going on.

He said he graduated from Syracuse University in 2003 with a major in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science. He graduated from Widener University Commonwealth Law School in 2007, he said.

The March special election became necessary after Murphy resigned in October following reports that pro-life lawmaker asked a mistress to have an abortion during a pregnancy scare.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me