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Personal tests spark Miller's bid to become lieutenant governor
Butch Miller
Sen. Butch Miller - photo by photo submitted
That’s why I think I’m qualified to be lieutenant governor — my personal experience, my business experience and my legislative experience.
District 49 Sen. Butch Miller, Republican candidate for lieutenant goveror

ATLANTA — Butch Miller understands the day-to-day challenges that many Georgians face. As a father and small businessman, he has endured a lot of them.

 A 65-year-old Gainesville Republican who represents District 49 in the state Senate, Miller wants to use his dogged determination to help people as lieutenant governor.

  “My wife and I have three boys — Cole, Carey and Charlie,” Miller said during an interview at the Atlanta Hyatt Regency on Jan. 31 “Cole was born in 1987 profoundly disabled. He had no purposeful movement.

“He couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, clothe himself or anything else but he changed the way I looked at life.”

Miller and his wife visited doctors and hospitals all over the country in an effort to figure out what caused Cole’s condition. He had a severe mitochondrial disorder.

“We went to Emory, we went Stanford, we went to Johns Hopkins and everybody kept saying, ‘It’s one in a gazillion. It’s just a fluke. Have more children. You will be fine,’ ” Miller recalled.

Miller and his wife adhered to that advice.

“So we had child number two. Typical child, Carey,” Miller said. “Today, he is practicing law in Atlanta.”

Believing the doctors were correct about Cole’s condition being a coincidence, the Millers opted to have a third child. Charlie, however, was born with the same affliction as Cole, who died when he was 14.

“Charlie is in a wheelchair but we wanted to make sure we gave Cole, Carey and Charlie an opportunity to succeed,” Miller said. “Charlie, in particular, has far exceeded our wildest expectations. When he was born, the doctors said, ‘Take him home and love him.’

“He was going to be like Cole is what they were thinking.”

Miller and his wife insisted that Charlie be educated in a typical classroom so that he could be challenged. In the afternoons, he received tutoring from his mother, Teresa, who was a teacher.

“He got the math award in the tenth grade and became manager of the football team,” Miller said. “He learned to drive a car. About two weeks after graduating from high school, he moved out.

“He already had a dorm rented in Atlanta so he could go to school.”

Charlie’s success continued after striking out on his own.

“God is good,” Miller said. “In October a year ago, a woman came into his life and they got married and they are going to have our first grandchild on May 1. Not to be outdone by his brother, they came home and said they are going to have the second grandchild on May 15.

“Oh my gosh! We are so excited! But my point in telling you all that is that we had to do the hard work that we needed to get done to give them the opportunity.”

Miller faced adversity in his business, too.

“I took over a fledgling little Honda dealership in 1993,” he sold. “We sold 16 cars the first month I was there. We lost $60,000.

“I could see that the only way to make this work was to change everything.”

Miller said went to a bank a borrowed $3,600.

“We had 36 employees,” he said. “I gave every one of them a $100 bonus for Christmas. Then on January 1, I laid off 16 of the 36.”

The painful move meant Miller had to shoulder a larger workload while still trying to help his wife tend to their children.

“I went in in the morning and vacuumed the floors,” he said. “I cleaned the windows. I cleaned the bathrooms.

“I did everything I needed to do to get the dealership ready for work, went home to help Teresa get the kids ready for school, then went back to work to sell cars, change oil or whatever I had to do.”

Miller said he has that same attitude in the Senate. He has served in it since 2010 and currently its president pro tempore. 

“(Being elected president pro tempore) shows that my colleagues have confidence in me,” he said. 

Miller said he decided to run for lieutenant governor after Geoff Duncan opted against a reelection bid. Duncan was opposed to Georgia’s Elections Integrity Act of 2021, which strengthened voter ID requirements on absentee ballots and limits the use of ballot drop boxes.

“When the lieutenant governor decided that he wasn’t willing to pass the elections integrity bill, I was called upon to preside and, as the presiding officer, you can call any bill that you want to call. I called on the elections integrity bill because I knew there were problems in our elections and I knew they had to be solved,” Miller said. “I knew that people have to have confidence in our elections so I got that bill across the finish line. That’s why I think I’m qualified to be lieutenant governor — my personal experience, my business experience and my legislative experience.”

Miller’s objectives include:

— getting rid of all ballot drop boxes

— adding a provision against non-citizens voting to the state constitution

— eliminating the state income tax

— keeping Critical Race Theory out of schools

— passing Constitutional Carry, which would allow gun owners to carry their weapons openly or concealed

“Those are the things that I am working on and I think are important to Georgians,” Miller said. “Also, economic development and prosperity — good jobs, good jobs that Georgians can be proud of, not jobs that you can barely make a living doing.

“If you don’t make it, mine it or grow it, it is hard to making a living doing it. That is why I think manufacturing is so important to us.”

Miller will also seek transportation improvements.

“Transportation and economic development dovetail. You can’t have one without the other,” he said.

Miller’s opponents in the Republican primary are Burt Jones, Mack McGregor and Jeanne Seaver. The Democrats’ slate for the office includes Erick Allen, Charlie Bailey, Jason Hayes, Derrick Jackson and Renitta Shannon.