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Will Representative Jeff Miller Run For Congress?

While he’s still mulling over a run for the U.S. Senate, Cong. Jeff Miller collected about $677,000 in the second quarter of this year for his campaign coffers.

According to papers filed with the Federal Election Commission, the funds were raised through campaign and leadership PACs. The $677,000 total is higher than what was amassed during the last election cycle when he won a seventh term to the House.

“It’s very rare that you have a seat open up where there is no clear front runner,” said Miller. “This is the case, so we’re looking at it.”

“Obviously, both parties want to win that seat desperately,” said Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida. “Because it’s very likely that if either chamber of the U.S. Congress is to flip, the Senate is more likely than the House.”

Miller, who chairs the House Armed Service Committee, is expected to announce in the coming days or weeks that he’s running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio, who’s seeking the GOP presidential nomination. McManus says Miller would bring to the table his legislative experience at the federal level.

“Knowledge of the congressional lawmaking process and the budget process, and being able to talk about a lot of policy areas, because the senate race is likely to be very policy-focused,” said McManus.

Two other Republicans have made it official. Cong. Ron DeSantis, a Tea Party favorite, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who announced on Wednesday via YouTube.

DeSantis reported more than $2 million in his campaign coffers and, according to the Miami Herald, has secured backing from numerous donors connected to Lopez-Cantera’s boss, Gov. Rick Scott, who has said he would stay out of the GOP primary.

Some observers say Miller could eat into some of DeSantis’ base on Miller’s home turf: the Panhandle and north Florida. USF’s Susan McManus agrees.

“The Republican strength in the Panhandle has actually increased considerably in recent years,” McManus said. “And a lot of it is in the western part of the Panhandle, where growth is taking place.”

A Quinnipiac University poll last month suggested the race for the Republican nomination is wide open. Cong. Jeff Miller was not included in the survey. Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown says the one common thread for now among all candidates, announced and potential, is that, “No one knows who they are. Well over 70% of voters can’t name most of the candidates. But more importantly if you ask them who these people are, they don’t know.”

Congressmen Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Alan Grayson of Orlando are among Democrats running for the seat. An email to Cong. Jeff Miller’s Washington office has not been answered, but a spokesman has said that the Congressman would decide “very soon.”