Chris Miller launches campaign for W.Va. Governor
CHARLESTON — Chris Miller, the son of a member of Congress, a businessman known for his wacky car commercials, and a frequent Republican fundraiser, launched his campaign for governor of West Virginia on Thursday.
According to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, Miller filed pre-candidacy paperwork Thursday. Jared Wyrick, president of the West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, will serve as treasurer for the Miller campaign.
Pre-candidacy allows potential candidates to start raising money but doesn’t commit the potential candidate to running for a specific seat until the official filing period starts.
Speaking by phone Thursday afternoon, Miller said he is running for governor to help initiate plans to help reverse West Virginia’s population loss. The state lost nearly 60,000 residents between 2010 and 2020, resulting in the loss of a congressional district.
Miller said the state’s current economic conditions make it possible to reverse those trends.
“Our state, for the first time in a long time, has actually been positioned to take off,” Miller said. “It’s incredibly important for me to reverse the trends our state has experienced over a long period of time with declining population and not a lot of national respect.
“We’re being presented right now with an opportunity to grow ourselves from a business standpoint, make ourselves an easier place to do business, and — most importantly — grow our population because of the trends that are happening in our country,” Miller continued. “That is something we absolutely, positively have to accomplish. The state, in order to be successful in the future, has to be able to grow its population. I want to be able to be a part of the success and be involved and help lead everyone in the right direction.”
Miller, a Huntington native, is an officer in the Dutch Miller chain of car dealerships throughout most of West Virginia, including serving as president of the new Dutch Miller Chevrolet in Ripley. He is one of the sons of 3rd District Congresswoman Carol Miller, now in her second term in Congress.
While his mother has been front and center in politics, previously serving as a long-time member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Miller has worked mostly behind-the-scenes in politics, raising campaign funds for various legislative, state government, and federal races for Republican candidates.
Miller has mostly been visible as part of his family’s car dealership commercials, where Miller is known for wacky and humorous antics, including spoofing former president Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. But Miller is clear that his candidacy is serious.
“I’m very, very serious about this,” Miller said.
“We’re talking about the future of not just my kids, but my grandkids. We’re talking about the future of the grandchildren of this state. It’s really important that we get this right, right now. We need to step into the 21st century and really revamp how we’re doing a lot of things. To make sure that instead of having a brain drain, that we are an attractor of the best and the brightest coming to West Virginia in order to grow this state.”
Miller is the second candidate to file pre-candidacy papers for governor in 2024. Republican Terri Bradshaw of Gandeeville also filed paperwork in August. Many candidates thinking about a potential run for another seat, such as governor, file as undeclared pre-candidates in order to raise money and test the waters.
According to the Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Filing System, nine people have filed as undeclared pre-candidates in 2024, including Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt; State Auditor J.B. McCuskey; State Treasurer Riley Moore; Secretary of State Mac Warner; and state senators Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson; Randy Smith, R-Tucker; and Ryan Weld, R-Brooke.
Miller said he plans to self-fund and also solicit funds for his campaign from supporters across the state. While it is possible the race could become crowded with any number of Republican candidates, he doesn’t see more candidates as a hindrance to his campaign.
“I don’t care how crowded the field is,” Miller said. “There is a contest that occurs where the state voters pick who they want to lead them. Yeah, you could have a geographical battle … but at the end of the day, the best person is going to be picked for the job.”
Gov. Jim Justice, who won re-election for a second term as governor in 2020, can only serve two consecutive terms at a time, creating an open seat in 2024.
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