WASHINGTON — Carol Miller ran for Congress more than two decades ago in New Mexico, garnering 17 percent of the vote as the nominee of the Green Party — one of the highest percentages ever for a third-party candidate running in a contested House race.
She ran again in 1998 and again in 2008, galvanizing the issues and framing the debate, drawing strong support while not winning the seat.
This year she finally caught the attention of the White House.
Last week Miller received a letter from Vice President Mike Pence’s political action committee — the Great America Committee — and a check for $5,000.
The contribution was a surprise, in that it was years too late and the fact the Miller is a staunch progressive, peace activist and supporter of most positions opposite of Pence and President Donald Trump.
“It was surprising because it arrived in my post office box for ‘Friends of Carol Miller’ ” in Albuquerque, Miller told TMN in an interview. “They must just be sitting there all day, sending out checks to candidates.”
Miller had closed her campaign account in 2009, in accordance with Federal Election Commission guidelines.
The check was payable to “Carol for Congress.” That is the campaign of a different Carol Miller: a Republican member of the state House of Delegates running for the open Third Congressional District seat. Her campaign committee address was on the check.
“It appears that one hand (on the Pence PAC) did not know what the other hand was doing,” Miller said.
Pence’s PAC is the first one ever created by a vice president to provide resources for the vice president to back candidates who are supportive of the president’s agenda. In the past, vice presidents used party funds to pay for such expenses.
Along with the check was a business card for PAC co-chairman Marty Obst, Pence’s longtime finance director and gubernatorial campaign manager.
Obst did not return calls for comment.
Miller looked up the address for her namesake and mailed her the contribution, telling her the check sent 1,858 miles to New Mexico instead of the 292 miles to West Virginia was a clerical error.
She also added a note that read, in part:
“I’ve spent my whole life working for everyone to have access to universal health care and opposing the corporate military establishment in the United States,” she wrote. “I have spent my whole life working to alleviate the human suffering that is occurring around the country – from the coalfields of Appalachia to the frontier communities of New Mexico. All over the United States, people are suffering from government actions that your policies would increase and perpetuate.
“So, at the same time that I’m forwarding this check to you, I’m urging all of the Carol Millers in the United States to support your opponent, Richard Ojeda in the November election,” she said. “At least Ojeda has the courage to take on the powerful pharmaceutical lobbyists behind the West Virginia opioid tragedy and stand with the teachers during their historic strike for West Virginia children earlier this year.”
Miller currently works with the Peaceful Skies Coalition, which opposes the military’s use of public lands. She also works to reboot economies away from military spending and to clean up toxic military sites and protect the public health.
She told TMN that West Virginia is much like New Mexico in being among states that “often are at the bottom and left behind.” She said that while no candidate is perfect, the issues that Ojeda supports “are critical for the state and the nation.”
Miller is still in the process of rounding up other Carol Millers to send contributions to Ojeda. She already made hers — online, to his website.