State Sen. Josh Miller, D-Cranston said Sunday he is a candidate for Democratic National Committeeman. Miller’s candidacy would be a challenge to former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino Jr., who has announced he wants to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of Committeeman Frank Montanaro Sr., the former chairman of the state AFL-CIO.
In a letter to Democratic State Chairman Joseph McNamara, a Warwick state representative, and Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye, the party’s executive director, Miller says it is crucial that Democrats have a committeeman who represents “the small business and working class perspective, and that this should be a priority when representing Rhode Island Democrats.”
Miller has represented a Senate district anchored by Cranston’s Edgewood neighborhood since 2007. He is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership and is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services.
Miller has carved a record as one of the General Assembly’s most progressive members. He was a leader in approval of gay marriage legislation and has been an outspoken advocate for legalizing marijuana. Miller has also supported efforts on gun control, keep abortion safe and legal, minimum wage hikes, renewable energy and environmental protection.
A restaurateur and tavern owner, Miller has served on a slew of business and community boards, including Farm Fresh RI; the Providence-Warwick Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; the Providence Downtown Merchants Association; the RI Hospitality Association and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Non-Violence. A Providence native, Miller was educated at the University of Rhode Island. He is proprietor of the Hot Club and Trinity Brew House in Providence. Until recently, he and his wife, Nancy Miller, ran the Local 121 farm to table restaurant in Providence. He is the former owner of the Met Cafe.
Miller as a delegate to Democratic National Conventions in 2012 and 2016. Paolino is a former Providence mayor and ambassador to Malta. He is large downtown Providence real estate owner and investor. Close to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Paolino served as ambassador to Malta during the Clinton administration and has been a stalwart Clinton campaign fund-raiser. While Miller is from the party’s liberal wing, Paolino is closer to the Clinton centrist view.
The national committee post is elected by the Democratic State Committee. The composition of the committee gives outsized clout to House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston because every representative district carries two committee representatives. Those committee members are often family members or staunch allies of the incumbent Democratic state rep.