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Butch Millers star rising in state politics, but how far?
Senator will push governor's agenda as floor leader
Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, keeps busy at his Honda dealership as he prepares for the 153rd General Assembly which will convene its first session today at the Capitol in Atlanta.

General Assembly 2015

  • The legislature bangs the gavel today and Gov. Nathan Deal will be sworn in for his second term.
  • A live stream of Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2 p.m. swearing-in ceremony

Widely seen as charismatic, a motivator and high-energy, state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville has essentially become Gov. Nathan Deal’s legislative spokesman for 2015.

Though he narrowly lost a bid to become the Senate president pro tem, the No. 2 spot behind Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Miller was handpicked by Deal to be a floor leader.

That appointment gives Miller an inside track to the governor’s office, and positions him as a prominent force behind any legislation poised to pass or doomed to fail in 2015.

It’s a fitting spot for Miller, who many believe is positioned for higher office — one day.

“I think you might have overstated my impact or responsibility,” Miller told The Times during a recent sit-down interview.

But try as he might, that humble concession belies Miller’s character.

A Republican lawmaker representing Georgia’s 49th District, which spans

most of Hall County, Miller is certainly no stranger to the limelight.

Gainesville residents are familiar with his catchy local advertisements hawking cars for Milton Martin Honda on Browns Bridge Road.

In some ways, Miller’s big personality has been his springboard in politics, as he moved up the ranks of state lawmakers in just five short years.

Deal has certainly found an ally in the salesman, someone who can pitch legislative product and help the governor burnish his legacy.

“He’s going to rely on Butch ...” said state Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

Of course, Miller benefits from being part of Republican-dominated Georgia politics and, more specifically, conservative Hall County.

Building goodwill and support among colleagues is easy when you run unopposed, as the senator did in 2014, and when the governor has long resided in your own backyard. 

Likely demographic changes in the state over the next few years, however, have the potential to derail the fortunes of many sitting Republicans in the Peach State.

For now, with his rise to state-level prominence, buttressed in part by Deal’s re-election to a second term, Miller appears to be a contender for greater political heights.

“He has not expressed anything to me,” said state Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville. “But obviously he enjoys” politics. “The rumor mill is he does want to run for higher office. Which one, I don’t know.”

Miller is keeping his aspirations close to the vest.

He said he’s focused on supporting Deal this year, and finding the right mix of work and play.

“We have to have that balance in life, in business and in politics,” Miller said. “It’s all about balance.”

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