December 10, 2009

Analysis: Who’s in the room? Mike Miller is

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Senate President Mike Miller laughed when told about Bob Ehrlich’s quip about the involvement of Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman in Senate negotiations. “Allan is not just outside the room, he doesn’t know where the room is,” Ehrlich said.

The Republican former governor said last week that leaders would be more likely to bring Kittleman to the table if the Republicans held more seats

“There are others of Allan’s party that are in the room,” said the long-time Democratic leader, senators such David Brinkley (whom Kittleman replaced as leader), Don Munson and Lowell Stoltzfus. “They are very valued members of the Republican Party,” as is Kittleman himself on the Finance Committee. And unlike in the House, Miller maintained, he makes sure Republicans are on the conference committees that hammer out differences between House and Senate legislation.

As for Ehrlich’s renewed call to pick up five more seats, Miller doesn’t see that happening. Ehrlich was speaking at an event for a challenger to Sen. Jim Robey, who Miller called “one of the most valued members of the Senate,.” (Ehrlich said Miller “will give a lot of money” to help Robey, the former Howard County executive and police chief, keep his seat.)

Miller said other incumbents in conservative-leaning swing districts, such as John Astle, Ed DeGrange, Ed Kasemeyer and Roy Dyson, will be tough to challenge.

“Each of those people that you name are members of the leadership,” he said. “Those are going to be difficult seats for Republican challengers of whatever merit.”

Republicans strongly feel the political trends favor them in 2010, and Miller agreed.

“I think it’s quite possible that next year will be a good year for them,” he said, but “The GOP might want to focus on what they have rather than seek to oust incumbents.”

“The public is not happy with the Congress of the United States, both Democrats and Republicans, and that translates to all elected officials,” said Miller, completing his 24th year as presiding officer in 2010. “People go to the polls to express their anger.”

But his Democrats “didn’t fall off turnip trucks. All of our senators are going to be running scared,” Miller said.