Professor seeks bid with DFL for Senate

University associate medical professor Dr. Steve Miles announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Monday.
Miles will seek the Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement to run against Rod Grams, who is up for re-election in November 2000.
At the end of this month, Miles will cut back on his University job to focus on his bid for the Senate seat now held by the Republican Grams. U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota, supported Miles last month, but has not issued a formal endorsement.
Two other DFLers, former U.S. attorney David Lillehaug and frequent candidate Dick Franson, have already announced their candidacy for the seat. Several others, including Democratic U.S. Rep. David Minge, have also expressed their interest in the seat.
Although Miles has never served in public office, he is optimistic about his chances.
He said Grams is too ideological to focus on Minnesotans’ needs and that Lillehaug’s bid hasn’t received much enthusiasm.
Lillehaug had no comment regarding Miles’ candidacy.
Miles said his own experience as a physician, a scientist and a teacher would set him apart from other candidates and from current senators.
“We have an increasing need for senators who can understand science issues and whose daily life is in contact with the people,” Miles said.
State Rep. Lee Greenfield, DFL-Minneapolis, endorsed Miles, but was unavailable for comment. Greenfield is the DFL leader of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
Although Miles has already built a base of support, including 400 campaign volunteers, he said he doesn’t plan to recruit students until he stops teaching. He doesn’t want to campaign to students while he is still able to grade them.
One of the major issues Miles will pursue in his campaign is improved access to higher education.
“To live productively in an information age, we need to make higher education more available,” Miles said.
Miles would do this by coordinating tax and time incentives so more people would know how to take advantage of these benefits, he said.
He would also attempt to improve access to higher education for nontraditional students. For instance, Miles would like to see a broader range of night school or early morning classes.
“I don’t believe this country has ever lost a dime in terms of higher education,” Miles said. “It always pays off.”
It’s an enormous waste to have talented people not be able to afford higher education, Miles said.
Miles’ campaign will target universal health care and social security as well.
“Universal access to affordable, high-quality, comprehensive health coverage is a standard for developed nations,” Miles said. “It should be a standard here.”
Lifting the burden off of young people trying to help their elderly parents or grandparents is just one reason Miles said social security needs to be saved.
Miles graduated from the University’s Medical School in 1976 and currently teaches geriatric medicine. He received his bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College.
In addition to his medical school practice, Miles works with the Center for Bioethics, the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies and the University Council on Aging. He has also worked with refugees in Cambodia.