Harris N. Miller is an American politician, businessman, and lobbyist. He was formerly the president of the Information Technology Association of America and the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA). On June 13, 2006, he lost the Democratic primary in the Virginia U.S. Senate election to Jim Webb.
Early life, education, and family
Harris Miller was born in western Pennsylvania. His parents had mixed success running grocery stores, a car wash, and other small businesses. He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he received an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy in 1972. He received a political science MPhil from Yale University in 1975. Miller married his wife Deborah in 1980. They have two grown children Derek and Alexis.
Early on, Miller was an aide on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee; a legislative director for former U.S. Senator John A. Durkin (D-N.H.); the Deputy Director of Personnel Management for Congressional Relations in the Carter Administration; and a legislative assistant for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law.
In the early 1980s, Miller acted as government relations director for Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, a nationwide law firm specializing in immigration. He was also president of Immigration Services Associates, a government relations firm based in Washington, D.C. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for a House seat from Virginia in 1984. He operated his own government relations firm, Harris Miller & Associates, with clients in high tech, agriculture and banking.
In 1995, Miller became President of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA). Miller, representing ITAA, provided Congressional testimony in favor of increases in the H-1B visa quotas and supporting the international outsourcing of IT work. Because of this, he came under fire during his later Senate campaign from an IT worker association and organized labor groups.
Campaign for Senate
Miller was the first to announce a bid to be the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate against first-term Republican Senator George Allen. While his support was strong among the local Virginia party activists who weigh heavily in primaries, it was not enough to triumph over his late-entering primary opponent, James Webb, who benefited from a strong military background, the support of well-known blogs such as the Daily Kos, and the endorsements of several national Democratic leaders. These endorsements for Webb, including that of Charles Schumer, head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, were unusual for a primary and reflected Webb's perceived strengths as a candidate over Miller's.
One newspaper columnist dismissed Miller as "a Republican strategist's dream opponent. He's as charismatic as a toaster, wonkier than Al Gore and as proudly liberal as Al Franken. And at just about the worst time ever to be one, he's a lobbyist. He's a total contrast to Allen; no cowboy boots or chewing tobacco here." AFL-CIO National Executive Director Michael W. Gildea said: "...Miller is truly one of the bad guys. Over and over again on core issues like trade, immigration, overtime protections and privatization of federal jobs, he’s not only been on the wrong side, he’s been galvanizing corporate efforts against us."
The primary campaign was occasionally acrimonious, with Miller faulting Webb as a Democrat-come-lately who in 2000 voted for George W. Bush and endorsed Allen, and Webb criticizing Miller as an IT lobbyist who exported American jobs, at more than one point saying "you've been called the Antichrist of outsourcing." After his loss, Miller affirmed his support for Webb as the Democratic candidate in the upcoming general election. He said he had "no regrets" and was taking some time off to think about his next move.
- ITAA Call on Congress to Raise Cap for Temporary Workers Law Offices of Carl Shusterman website, Feb 25, 1998
- L VISAS: Losing Jobs through Laissez-Faire Policies? Hearing Before the House Committee on International Relations, Feb. 4, 2004
- Labor Market in Flux: How Can States Respond to Outsourcing, Labor Shortages & Job Creation? 29-Apr-04 ITAA website newsroom
- High Tech’s Short List for the Next Few Weeks Legislative “Must Do’s” to Members of Congress September 7, 2004; ITAA website docs
- Fear of job loss due to outsourcing — IT career loses sheen among US students The Hindu Business Line; Monday, Aug 01, 2005
- Labor Labels Senate Hopeful 'Anti-Worker' The Washington Post Friday, April 14, 2006; Page B05
- Webb Picks Up Unusual Endorsement Washington Post, June 8, 2006, B01
- Former Reagan Aide Wins Va. Senate Primary Washington Post June 14, 2006