Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller announced Wednesday his retirement from the body he served in for 45 years and led for more than 30 years.
The 78-year-old has been battling prostate cancer for two years. He is considered an institution in Maryland politics.
“It is now with tremendous sadness that I must write to you today to inform you that my service will end, effective today. My heart and my mind remain strong, but my body has grown too weak to meet the demands of another legislative session,” Miller wrote in a letter to his successor, Senate President Bill Ferguson.
Miller, who represents both Prince George’s County and Calvert County, bid farewell to his colleagues and stressed the need for unity.
“I must now retire from the august body of the Senate of Maryland and take my leave from public life. I bid an affectionate farewell to you all and it is is my greatest hope that our Almighty God bless and protect you, your families, our nation, and our state. I pray that future generations in the Maryland General Assembly will continue to come together in the spirit of public service and unity to once again get to work on behalf of the citizens of the great State of Maryland.”
Miller lamented on the political polarization that is present throughout the nation, saying: “It seems that a unity of purpose cannot be found in our nation’s capital or in many places across our country and that in most instances, true compromise has become the enemy of elected officials.”
Miller contrasted that viewpoint with that of Maryland Senate where he said he has seen the body “rise above partisan and other differences time and time again.”
Miller elaborated on that point.
“We did not always agree-even with members of our own party-but we disagreed with dignity and congeniality and that is what made me so proud to be a part of the Senate of Maryland.”
Miller stepped down as Senate president in January and turned the reigns over to the then-36-year-0ld Ferguson. Ferguson is considered to be more progressive than Miller, who is generally regarded as an old-school Democrat.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
In an online press gaggle on Wednesday afternoon, Miller told reporters that he hopes to be remembered for his “love” of the Chesapeake Bay, education and the Senate.
State officials thanked Miller for his service in a series of statements on Wednesday.
“Every Marylander, and every Senator for the last 50 years, has been deeply affected by Mike’s leadership and commitment to bettering the lives and opportunities of others. In my first nine years as Senator, I observed how Mike as Senate President had a unique ability to bring people together to solve problems, despite the controversy or intensity of difference. His example of leadership and statesmanship has and will continue to serve as a model for public servants in Maryland for years to come,” Ferguson said.
“On behalf of a grateful state, I want to thank my good friend Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller for 50 incredible years of service to the people of Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Hogan added: “Over the weekend, I spoke to President Miller as he prepared to make this difficult announcement. It was a deeply personal and heartfelt conversation, as ours have always been. I have known Mike since I was a kid, and it has been one of my greatest privileges as governor to serve alongside him. He will go down in our state’s history as a lion of the Senate.”
Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City), who served with Miller on the Budget and Taxation Committee, praised the retiring senator for his leadership on fiscal issues.
“Thanks to Senator Miller’s leadership-and pulse on the legislature-the State of Maryland has closed budget deficits year after year and has championed great social causes.”