The Republican cites family and business reasons.
Freshman state Rep. Alex Miller, a wealthy Sarasota Republican viewed by many in the party as a promising up-and-coming political talent, abruptly announced Thursday she is resigning from her legislative position, citing family and business reasons.
“As a mother with two teenage boys who is the CEO of a rapidly growing business, I have come to the conclusion that I must spend more time at home than my service in the Legislature would allow,” Miller wrote in a resignation letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
Miller’s resignation is effective Sept. 1. Gov Rick Scott will call a special election to replace her. The race already had a candidate Thursday morning.
Republican James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, announced he will to end his bid for another state House seat that is mostly in Manatee County and run for Miller’s District 72 seat, which includes much of northern Sarasota County. Buchanan lives in Sarasota.
“We have the opportunity in this special election to help keep our state on course to be the nation’s leader in economic growth, education, innovation and so much more” Buchanan wrote in a statement.
Elected in November, the 44-year-old Miller was less than halfway through her first two-year term when she called it quits.
Miller’s first year in the Legislature was rocky at times. She found herself under fire over her position on high-profile legislation aimed at reigning in two state economic development agencies, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.
Miller was criticized by Gov. Rick Scott and his allies for originally supporting the legislation in committee. She later voted against eliminating many economic incentives doled out by Enterprise Florida, pitting her against House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
After defying Corcoran, Miller lost her position on two committees dealing with health care, one of her primary legislative interests.
Miller also was embroiled in a contentious race to see who will be House speaker in 2022. She was on the losing side of the speaker’s race.
The CEO of her family’s medical supply business, Mercedes Medical, Miller has long been interested in politics. She won a seat on the Sarasota County Hospital Board and flirted with running for the Legislature before finally pulling the trigger last year.
Miller’s wealth – she is worth $3.5 million – and deep connections in the community after years of serving on various nonprofit boards made her a strong candidate, and she easily won a contested primary and general election last year. Young and outgoing, she was viewed as a rising star in local politics who might contend for a state Senate or congressional seat someday.
Miller said in a text message that her company is breaking ground on a $10 million new headquarters next month and she needs to spend more time at work, and with her family. She declined to comment on her tumultuous first legislative session.
“Ultimately I felt my district deserved someone that can dedicate all their energies to the office,” Miller said.
Miller’s unexpected resignation presents an opportunity for both parties.
The District 72 House seat includes much of northern Sarasota County. It leans Republican, but is not an overwhelmingly GOP seat. Democrats made a strong play for the seat last year but their candidate, Edward James III, was hamstrung by the revelation he had been accused of sexual assault.
The voter registration in the district is 43 percent Republican, 32 percent Democrat and 25 percent minor party or no party affiliate. President Donald Trump won the seat by 4.4 percentage points, compared to his 11 percentage point margin in Sarasota County and 17 point margin in Manatee County.
Miller’s moderate views on issues such as abortion and gay rights reflected the district’s partisan breakdown.
Buchanan is a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School and Florida State University. He founded James Buchanan realty and has been involved in his dad’s political campaigns.
In shifting races, Buchanan avoids a big showdown with Bradenton Republican Will Robinson, a well-known attorney who comes from a prominent family. Robinson is now the only Republican running for the District 71 seat, which includes much of western Manatee County and small portion of Sarasota County.
Buchanan and Robinson both come from wealthy, well-known families and have strong bases of support. Their match up was expected to be one of the most expensive legislative races in the state next year. Robinson now has a much easier path to election against Democrat Randy Cooper, who has raised little money so far.