Mark F. Miller

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Mark F. Miller
Majority Leader of the Wisconsin Senate
In office
July 17, 2012 – January 7, 2013
Preceded byScott L. Fitzgerald
Succeeded byScott L. Fitzgerald
Minority Leader of the Wisconsin Senate
In office
January 12, 2011 – March 17, 2012
Preceded byScott L. Fitzgerald
Succeeded byScott L. Fitzgerald
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 3, 2005 – January 4, 2021
Preceded byCharles Chvala
Succeeded byMelissa Agard
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 48th district
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 3, 2005
Preceded byDoris Hanson
Succeeded byJoe Parisi
Personal details
Born (1943-02-01) February 1, 1943 (age 78)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jo Oyama-Miller
MotherMary E. (Scoon) Miller
FatherEdward Ernst Miller
RelativesMidge Miller (stepmother)
ResidenceMonona, Wisconsin, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison
WebsiteSenate website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Years of service1966-1995
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lt. Colonel, ANG

Mark F. Miller (born February 1, 1943) is a retired American politician. A Democrat, he served 16 years in the Wisconsin State Senate (2005–2021) and was majority leader in 2012. He also served 6 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Early life and family[edit]

Mark Miller was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1943, but moved to Wisconsin as a child and graduated from Middleton High School in Middleton. His father, Ed Miller, worked as a professor at the University of Wisconsin. His mother died in 1961, and, in 1963, Miller's father married Marjorie Leeper, who would later become well known in Wisconsin politics as Midge Miller. Midge became a significant activist in Wisconsin, running the Wisconsin presidential primary campaign of U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and serving 14 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly.[1][2] Mark Miller later credited his stepmother's example as important in his decision to go into public service.

Miller joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1966 and became an aircraft pilot, he remained in the Guard until 1995. He married second-generation Japanese American Jo Oyama in 1968, just after the Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia struck down prohibitions against interracial marriage. Wisconsin never had a law prohibiting interracial marriage, but the couple lived for a time in Alabama, where Miller had been stationed with the Air National Guard. Miller referred to this experience as formative in discussing his perspective on marriage equality in the context of Wisconsin amending its Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in 2006.[3] Miller and Jo have three children and reside in Monona, Wisconsin.

Miller obtained his Bachelor's degree in 1973, at age 30, from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He worked in real estate and entered politics in 1996, when he was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Political career[edit]

In 1998, Miller ran for Wisconsin State Assembly in a crowded Democratic primary to replace Doris Hanson, who had resigned to take a new job in the state government. Miller prevailed in the primary over Monona attorney Helen Marks Dicks, Madison city budget analyst Dan Bohrod, and Madison activist Barbara Pennington. In the general election, he faced Republican Madison consultant Kevin Miller, and won 68% of the vote in the Democrat-friendly district. Miller was re-elected in his Assembly seat in 2000 and 2002, and continued his education during this time, attending the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development and the Flemming Fellows Leadership Institute.

In 2004 he seized an opportunity to run for the Wisconsin State Senate in the 16th district, where incumbent Charles Chvala was facing criminal indictment.[4] Miller faced fellow-Assemblymember Tom Hebl in the Democratic primary and prevailed with about 58% of the vote.

Miller rose through the ranks in the Democratic caucus and was chosen as caucus chairman when the Democrats took the majority in 2007. Later that year, he became co-chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.[5]

2011 Wisconsin protests[edit]

The 2010 elections gave Republicans full control of state government with Scott Walker as Governor and new majorities in the Legislature. Miller was chosen as the new leader for Senate Democrats in the minority, and expressed interest in working with the new majority to advance the business of the state.[6] However, Governor Walker's Budget Repair Bill—ending collective bargaining rights for public employee unions—was seen as so radical that it provoked massive protests at the State Capitol. As Republicans signaled their intent to quickly pass the legislation despite the protests, Miller fled the state with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, to deny the Senate a quorum. As the bill was nonetheless being passed during the evening hours of March 9, 2011, Miller commented acidly, "In 30 minutes, 18 senators undid 50 years of civil rights".[7][8]

A series of recall elections followed the Budget Repair Bill controversy, as Democrats were targeted for leaving the state and Republicans were targeted for the legislation itself. Miller was one of the senators subject to a recall movement. Organizers of the recall came within 268 votes of recalling him and had the option of merging their signatures with those collected by the Utah-based group American Patriot Recall Coalition in order to meet the minimum number of signatures required. However, the group decided not to do so because they claimed "the APRC is a front group for either wrecking conservative causes or for simple money making."[9]

Joint Senate Leader[edit]

Other recalls were more successful, and following the removal of two Republican senators in the 2011 recall elections and the resignation of Republican Senator Pam Galloway, the two parties were each left with 16 seats in the senate. A joint leadership then emerged with Miller, as the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, and Scott L. Fitzgerald, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, as co-leaders.[10][11] Democrats claimed the majority in July 2012 after a third Republican senator was defeated in a recall election, but as Republicans had already passed new redistricting legislation which locked in a majority through gerrymandering, the Democrats recall gains were wiped away in the 2012 general election. Miller stood down as leader after the election and supported the election of first term Milwaukee Senator Chris Larson as the Democrats' leader for the 2013-2014 session.[12]


In January 2020, Senator Miller announced he would not seek re-election to a fifth term in the Senate. He will leave office in January 2021.[13]

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin Assembly (1998, 2000, 2002)[edit]

Wisconsin Assembly, 48th District Election, 1998[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Primary Election, September 8, 1998
Democratic Mark F. Miller 3,024 30.08%
Republican Kevin Miller 2,547 25.34%
Democratic Helen Marks Dicks 2,352 23.40%
Democratic Dan Bohrod 1,715 17.06%
Democratic Barbara Pennington 414 4.12%
Total votes 10,052 100.0%
General Election, November 3, 1998
Democratic Mark F. Miller 13,498 68.44%
Republican Kevin Miller 6,224 31.56%
Total votes 19,722 100.0%
Democratic hold

Wisconsin Senate (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)[edit]

Wisconsin Senate, 16th District Election, 2004[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Primary Election, September 14, 2004
Republican Eric P. Peterson 9,267 38.54%
Democratic Mark F. Miller 8,582 35.69%
Democratic Tom Hebl 6,170 25.66%
Scattering 26 0.11%
Total votes 24,045 100.0%
General Election, November 3, 2004
Democratic Mark F. Miller 58,147 60.04%
Republican Eric P. Peterson 38,643 39.90%
Scattering 51 0.05%
Plurality 19,504 20.14%
Total votes 96,841 100.0%
Democratic hold


  1. ^ Nichols, John (April 17, 2009). "MIDGE MILLER, STATE LEGISLATOR AND POLITICAL DYNAMO, DIES AT 86". The Capital Times. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  2. ^ "Pioneering Wisconsin progressive Midge Miller, who helped women enter politics, dies at 86". St. Paul Pioneer Press. April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "Equality for All" (Press release). Madison, Wisconsin: Senator Mark Miller. 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  4. ^ Price, Jenny (October 19, 2002). "Chvala indicted on 20 felony counts State Senate majority leader to resign leadership post after charges". Racine Journal Times. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Miller named new co-chair of powerful budget-writing committee". St. Paul Pioneer Press. November 1, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  6. ^ Barbour, Clay (November 16, 2010). "Wisconsin's new minority party will need public support to save key Democratic initiatives". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  7. ^ "'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, March 9th, 2011". MSNBC. March 11, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  8. ^ Davey, Monica (March 10, 2011). "Wisconsin Senate Limits Bargaining by Public Workers". The New York Times. Chicago. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Erickson, Doug (April 29, 2011). "Merged signatures plan dropped, so recall effort against Sen. Miller ends". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  10. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (March 16, 2012). "Facing recall, Sen. Galloway retires from state Senate". The Capital Times. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  11. ^ Johnson, Jackie (March 16, 2012). "Retiring senator shakes up Capitol". Wisconsin Radio Network. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  12. ^ Craver, Jack (January 10, 2013). "Senior Senate Democrat rips party leader". The Capital Times. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  13. ^ Schmidt, Mitchell; Vetterkind, Riley (January 23, 2020). "Dane County Democratic Sen. Mark Miller announces retirement". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (1999). "Elections in Wisconsin". In Barish, Lawrence S.; Meloy, Patricia E. (eds.). State of Wisconsin 1999-2000 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. pp. 880, 883. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  15. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (2005). "Elections in Wisconsin". In Barish, Lawrence S. (ed.). State of Wisconsin 2005-2006 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. pp. 912–913. ISBN 0-9752820-1-8. Retrieved April 26, 2020.

External links[edit]

Wisconsin State Assembly
Preceded by
Doris Hanson
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 48th district
January 4, 1999 – January 3, 2005
Succeeded by
Joe Parisi
Wisconsin State Senate
Preceded by
Charles Chvala
Member of the Wisconsin Senate from the 16th district
2005 – 2021
Succeeded by
Melissa Agard
Preceded by
Scott L. Fitzgerald
Minority Leader of the Wisconsin Senate
2011 – 2012
Succeeded by
Scott L. Fitzgerald
Preceded by
Scott L. Fitzgerald
Majority Leader of the Wisconsin Senate
2012 – 2013
Succeeded by
Scott L. Fitzgerald