SEABROOK – Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. announced on Oct. 24 that he will not seek reelection as president of the Maryland Senate.
Miller, who was announced at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent chemotherapy in 2018, has been state president since 1987.
“After 34 years of being president of the Senate, my mind is still strong, but my body is weak,” Miller said in a press conference. “I have cancer that has metastasized to the bone. It hasn’t grown in the last six months, but I suffer from anemia, I suffer from fatigue and this is a full-time job, it’s a statewide job. And we need somebody younger and we have those people present in the room today.”
Miller is not leaving the Senate altogether, however. Miller said he plans to continue serving as a senator of District 27 in the Maryland Senate. His district includes parts of Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert Counties. His current term runs through 2022.
“Serving the residents of the 27th district is a privilege, and serving my colleagues as Senate President has been the honor of a lifetime,” Miller said. “I am grateful to my colleagues past and present for the faith they placed in me, and I am grateful to my family and friends for their support and sacrifices along the way.”
Following his announcement, state Democrats unanimously elected State Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-46), who has been in Annapolis since 2011. Ferguson said he will continue to reach out to Miller for help during the transition before the next session, noting “there is no one that can replace Mike Miller.”
Gov. Larry Hogan responded to Miller’s announcement by calling the Clinton native “a strong, unifying leader for the legislature and the state.” Miller was the longest-running senate president in the nation at the time of his resignation and is known as a fixture of the state legislature as well as an advisor to newer legislators in his time.
Hogan, who also fought and served through his own cancer diagnoses, said he was pleased to know Miller will continue to represent his district in the Senate.
“I have immense respect for Mike Miller,” Hogan said. “For the past year, he has shown all of us what courage and determination looks like as he faces a very tough personal battle.”
Former colleague U.S. Sen Chris Van Hollen (D) described him as a personal mentor in the legislature, and as a person who serves others, especially those close to him.
“I saw my dear friend Mike Miller last night at the Morgan State tribute to Elijah Cummings,” Van Hollen said. “Mike insisted that the doctors let him out of the hospital to eulogize Elijah. That’s Mike. (He’s) always there for friends; always there for Maryland.”
Miller first joined the General Assembly as a representative in 1971 and served until 1975. The electorate first elected him to the senate in 1974. He is the longest-serving Senate president in a state legislature in the U.S. after his colleagues elected him to the role in 1987.
Among events during his tenure as president, he oversaw construction execution of the intercounty connector (ICC). He helped bring about change in the legislature in several areas, including appointees. He increased the diversity of leadership appointed by his position, according to a news release. Miller “appointed the first woman and first African American standing committee chairs (Sens. Cathy Reilly and Clarence Blount, respectively), first African-American Majority Leader (Sen. Clarence Blount), first female President Pro Tem (Sen. Ida G. Ruben), first African-American President Pro Tem (Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden), and first Asian-American Majority Whip (Sen. Susan C. Lee),” according to Miller’s office.
One accomplishment legislatively under his tenure was funding for bay restoration, which “has systematically renovated all major sewage treatment plants in the state.” He has also had legislation to prevent the ravages of drunk driving passed under his leadership such as .08 and Noah’s Law.
The longtime legislator said stepping down from the role as president will not alter his sense of responsibility in the general assembly.
“While I am announcing today that I will be stepping down as Senate President, I will continue to serve the people of District 27, with the greatest political title I will ever achieve,” Miller said. “We still have work to do.”