Archived Story

Miller to oppose Moroz for 59th District seat

Published 8:58am Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Sturgis educator has advanced to the next level in his quest to become a state representative for residents of Cass and St. Joseph counties.

Aaron Miller has won the GOP nod for the 59th District seat in the Michigan House of Representatives, edging out fellow St. Joe county contenders John Bippus, Roger Rathburn, and Bob Sills, according to unofficial results from both counties. Miller secured the nomination with 2,670 votes, over 600 more than the second closest contender, Bippus, of Three Rivers.

Miller will go on to face Democrat Mike Moroz, of Dowagiac, for the seat in November. Both men are vying to succeed incumbent Republican Matt Lori, who cannot run again due to term limitations.

Miller’s victory was considered an upset by many election watchers, as the 27-year-old teacher was considered a dark horse candidate for the nomination.

“It was surreal, and very humbling that the district’s voters had entrusted me with this responsibility,” Miller said when asked about his initial reaction to the results.

Miller secured the nomination despite coming up short among Cass County voters. Miller received 456 votes from the local electorate, behind both Bippus, with 770, and Rathburn, with 498 votes. Sills trailed behind the rest of the pack with 210 votes.

The Sturgis resident attributes his success to strong door-to-door campaigning and strong performances at voter forums, he said. The candidate had only raised around $12,000 for the primary, the least of the four men running for the seat; Bippus, the frontrunner, had raised more than $120,000 for his campaign, according to data from the Secretary of State Office.

“It’s not a bad thing that my opponents have a lot of money behind them, but I think that voters were ready to say, ‘forget all the other factors, who is supposed to win; we’re going to pick the right person for the job,’” Miller said.

The Republican compared his campaign to the recent upset of former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost to Dave Brat in Virginia’s primary election in June despite a severe difference in spending between the two.

“We’ve proven one thing, that money doesn’t mean 100 percent of everything,” Miller said.

His opponent, Moroz, who received a total of 1,607, said he was also surprised at Miller’s success on Tuesday.

“He shook up the status quo,” he said. “It’s given us a new dynamic in the district.”

Despite the outcome of the primary, the Dowagiac candidate said his strategy to win over voters in both counties remains the same.

“My campaign, from the start, has run on the need for balance in the Michigan legislature,” Moroz said. “That still holds true today, whether I’m running against Aaron or any other candidate.”

Miller said his message of representing the people of the 59th District also remains unchanged, and that he will continue to hit the streets to earn votes in November.

“I think my victory is a testament that if you work hard and invest in something that it can pay off,” Miller said. “That’s the message that we intend to carry forward.”

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