WASHINGTON — Facing one of the toughest campaigns of any Republican congressman in the country, Rep. Gary Miller announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection to his Inland Empire seat, increasing prospects for a Democratic pickup.
“While there is still a lot of work to be done, it is now time for me to pass the baton. I will not seek reelection to Congress at the end of this term,’’ Miller said in a statement.
Miller, elected to the House in 1998, was among the Democrats’ top targets this year and regarded as among the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans – if not the most.
Democrats hold a 41% to 34% registration edge in the 31st Congressional District, which stretches west from Redlands and San Bernardino to Upland and Rancho Cucamonga.
His conservative record on immigration also was viewed as a further handicap in a district where nearly half the population is Latino.
Democrats running for the seat include Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar; Colton attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes; and Danny Tillman, a San Bernardino school board member. Joe Baca, a former Democratic congressman who was defeated in 2012 in a neighboring district, also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
Miller is the fifth California congressman to head for the exits, joining veteran Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of Los Angeles and George Miller of Martinez and Republicans Howard “Buck” McKeon of Santa Clarita and John Campbell of Irvine, who are retiring when their terms end.
In his statement, Miller said that “family circumstances’’ led to his decision.
“When I came to Congress in 1999 my children were grown and out of the house,’’ he said. “Today, we have a full house again. My wife and I are raising our three grandchildren.’’