by Jim Nintzel
Brian Miller, an Air Force reserve A-10 pilot, was elected chairman of the Pima County Republican Party earlier today.
Miller, who made his political debut with an unsuccessful campaign for the GOP nomination in Congressional District 8, hails from the Ron Paul wing of the party—in general, he’s a get-the-government-out-of-our-lives kind of guy who opposes taxes, government involvement in health care and all that. But he also wants to see the U.S. out of foreign entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq and favors immigration-reform efforts over building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Here's what we wrote about Miller in a piece on the CD8 race last year:
Miller patterns himself after Congressman Ron Paul. In fact, after Paul's son, Rand Paul, won a U.S. Senate primary in May, Miller declared himself the "Rand Paul of CD 8."
Like both Pauls, Miller, 34, is all about constitutional limits on government. On matters such as repealing the Democratic health-care plan, pushing for privatization of Social Security
and stopping cap-and-trade, Miller is on the same page as Paton and Kelly.
But Miller, an Air Force veteran who still trains pilots to fly A-10s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as a member of the Air Force Reserve, splits with them on solutions to Arizona's border problems.
All three candidates say that they want anyone who has entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas to be forced to return to their home countries and start a new paperwork process to enter the United States.
Both Kelly and Paton say that they would not consider legislation establishing guest-worker programs or reforming the immigration process until they're convinced the border is secured—even if that takes years.
For Kelly, security means a fence along all 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and more Border Patrol agents on the ground. Paton, meanwhile, has called for soldiers from every branch of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines—to join at least 6,000 National Guard troops to apprehend illegal border-crossers.
That's a shift for Paton, who last year told members of Congress that National Guard units were "very effective" when deployed in "an auxiliary capacity."
In that testimony, he expressed reservations about having soldiers on the border: "I don't think it's a good idea to have U.S. soldiers patrolling with M-16s and the rest," Paton said. "We need them elsewhere."
Paton now says that "the situation has changed—it's gotten significantly more dangerous now than it was then."
But Miller says it's a mistake to put soldiers on the border, because the apprehension of border-crossers should be handled as a law-enforcement matter by the Border Patrol.
"If you simply put the National Guard or the military on the border, you have a problem," Miller says. "You either leave them in perpetuity, resulting in a militarized border, which I find abhorrent, or you pull them off at some point, and you have the same problem come back."
He estimates that the cost of Kelly's proposed double-layered fence would run a quarter of a trillion dollars over 25 years.
Miller argues that the real solution is a guest-worker program that eliminates the financial incentive to enter the country illegally.
"We must have a market-based, legal immigration system," Miller says. "Unless we fix the problem, simply putting troops on the border is a Band-Aid solution."
Another key difference: the war in Afghanistan. Paton wants to send at least 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan, while Kelly says he'd support whatever Gen. David Petraeus will recommend. But Miller favors withdrawing the troops.
"If we went into Afghanistan to defeat al-Qaida, it basically no longer exists there," Miller says. "Why do we have 100,000 U.S. troops there? The answer is: We're nation-building. As a conservative, I do not believe the job of the United States military is to nation-build."