JUNEAU — Former U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller is taking over as chairman of a conservative political action committee.
The Nevada-based Western Representation PAC said Miller will replace Dustin Stockton, who is becoming the group’s strategy director.
Miller, in conceding Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, made clear his desire to remain a part of the political debate. He recently announced plans to hit the speaking circuit, to carry the message of limited government that helped to make him a tea party favorite.
He also told The Associated Press last week that he didn’t expect to run in 2012 but hadn’t ruled out challenging Alaska’s lone congressman, Republican Don Young, in next year’s election.
Miller, in a statement, said the PAC made an impact on the 2010 elections, despite its relatively recent formation. The group, formed in 2009 after Stockton told his father, Roger Stockton, that he wanted to do something to make a difference politically, raised nearly $398,000 in 2010. It reported having about $32,000 on hand at the end of the year.
“We plan to build on that great start and bring the voice of ‘We the People’ to bear even more as we move towards 2012,” Miller said.
The PAC claims about 250,000 supporters, though not all are donors. The figure includes people signed up for updates. Roger Stockton said the group gained 80,000 to 90,000 supporters since the election.
“We are probably the largest PAC that nobody has ever heard of,” Roger Stockton, the group’s treasurer, said in an interview.
However, he thinks that could change with Miller at the helm.
“The tea party movement is alive and well and will be part of the 2012 elections, and Joe Miller has the respect of the tea party movement,” Roger Stockton said. “It’s less important he lost (his) race. What’s still important is he’s on top of the issues important to millions of Americans.”
He describes those issues as fiscal responsibility, limiting the size of government, stopping bailout spending and protecting civil liberties.
Miller was a virtual political unknown, making his first run for statewide public office when he upset U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in last year’s GOP primary. Murkowski went on to mount a successful write-in candidacy to keep her job.