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What may be a "little issue" to the press can be a big deal to "grassroots" people, she adds.

"I guess I could say I'm radical on some issues, but David Skaggs is, too," says Miller. "Why are we not calling him radical? He thinks that same-sex marriages are okay. That's pretty radical. And that they should be covered with insurance. That's pretty radical. But, you see, if you're radical on the so-called right, you're made a big deal out of that. But if you're on the left, nobody says how radical you are. I made a statement [at a debate] about the Department of Education, and one of my supporters said, `You'd better not say that anymore.' Well, Ronald Reagan said it, too.

"The Department of Eduction is unconstitutional. We're supposed to worship at the feet of education. And public education is destroying our country. And that's not a radical statement. That is the truth! I never made that up. That's something that I read in the papers. Every day there's something about how poorly our children are doing. I think that's pretty radical to keep pumping money into a failing system. So I guess it depends on how you're talking about defining `radical.'

"The issues that surround me, yes, are controversial," she continues. "That's just the kind of person I am. If you look back at the people who founded this country, by golly we wouldn't have had one if they weren't radical. I mean, they were all religious."

Miller laughs and adds, "I mean, I am left of the Founding Fathers!"

Colorado has a reputation for independent voters. It is, after all, a state that once was represented simultaneously by Senators Gary Hart and Bill Armstrong. And the state's 2nd Congressional District has a particularly rich mix. It elected George Bush and David Skaggs at the same time. The district encompasses liberal Boulder, home of the University of Colorado and the Naropa Institute, and conservative Denver suburbs in northern Jefferson and western Adams counties. Plus Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, including the gambling towns of Central City and Black Hawk. Plus the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, home to 14 tons of plutonium. It's a perfect place for doomsday Republicans.

The conservative hot spot in the 2nd District is northern Jefferson County, which along with Colorado Springs has become a locus of the right wing in Colorado. The area is home to the libertarian-right Colorado Taxpayers Party and the religious-right Rocky Mountain Family Council. It's the headquarters of Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG), the foremost anti-abortion organization in the state. Miller is the former executive director of CRG.

Also within the 2nd District is Colorado House District 27, which Miller represented from 1990 to 1992. She was preceded by such notables as David Bath, a law-and-order lawmaker who later was disgraced by a personal appearance in a bisexual porn video. Another predecessor of Miller's was Tom Tancredo, who later became regional head of the U.S. Department of Education under Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Tancredo, who believes that the department--and many other federal agencies--shouldn't even exist, now is head of the Independence Institute, a Golden think tank set up with Coors money. He's also a strong supporter of Miller and other candidates from the party's conservative Christian wing.

For a one-term legislator, Miller has quite an active political network in the northern suburbs. To begin with, the GOP chairman of District 27 is her husband, Lynn. Her former intern at the State Capitol, Cindy Gustafson, quit her job as state coordinator for Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition to work on Miller's campaign. (The local arm of the Christian Coalition branded David Skaggs a "foe of the family" before the '92 election.) The current GOP candidate for the District 27 House seat is Jim Congrove, who served on Miller's "John Q. Citizen" legislation-review panel when she was a state lawmaker and worked on her unsuccessful re-election bid for the District 27 seat in '92. The GOP candidate for the adjacent District 29 House seat is Mark Paschall, treasurer of a political organization Miller set up called Grassroots Colorado. Like Miller, Paschall and Congrove were actively opposed in the August primaries by party leaders and big money but won anyway.

Miller's allies also include conservative Catholics like Congrove and evangelical Christians from other churches. She personally trained 500 petition carriers for a CRG ballot initiative that would have mandated parental notification for teens who want abortions. (Enough signatures were gathered, but Secretary of State Natalie Meyer voided the petitions on a technicality; CRG is appealing.) Current CRG director Leslie Hanks, a columnist for the Colorado Christian News, writes hosannas to Miller and, at a recent joint appearance by Skaggs and Miller, grilled Skaggs from the audience about his contributions from Planned Parenthood.

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy