Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller died Friday afternoon at age 78, the senator’s family said in a statement.
The political powerbroker and old school Democrat who led the state’s upper chamber for more than four decades “passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by loved ones,” the statement said.
Miller is survived by his wife, Patti, son Tommy, daughters, Amanda, Michelle, Melissa, and Melanie, sisters Susan, Cynthia, Melinda, Nancy, and Kim, brothers, Jonathan, David, and Mark, and his fifteen grandchildren.
Miller had been battling prostate cancer for two years at the time of his death.
Last month Miller announced his retirement from the Senate. The announcement came less than a year after Miller vacated his leadership post in favor of now-Senate President Bill Ferguson.
Ferguson paid tribute to Miller’s life and political career on Friday evening.
“Mike was a family man, and his Senate family joins his family in mourning his passing,” Ferguson said in a statement. “For over 50 years, Mike served the people of Maryland in the General Assembly – first as a staffer to the Prince George’s County Delegation; then as a member of the House of Delegates, a member of the Senate, Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee; and for 32 years, as President of the Maryland Senate. He concluded this extraordinary period of service as Senate President Emeritus.”
Ferguson added: “It is impossible to think of the Maryland Senate and not think of Mike – not just because of his historical longevity – but because each member of the Senate has his or her own Mike story. Whether it’s the Senator who he quietly consoled through family matters, the Senator who he mentored to compromise and pass legislation, or those who experienced the personal care of Mike to truly listen to their concerns. There are thousands of former Senators, Delegates, staffers, and constituents in the 27th District that he has impacted for the better, and who each have their own Mike Miller story. I expect we’ll hear many of them in the days and weeks ahead, and I hope the public will listen and get a glimpse of the impact Mike made.”
Gov. Larry Hogan echoed simliar sentiments.
“Maryland has lost one of its most revered leaders, and I have lost a dear lifelong friend,” Hogan said in a statement.
Hogan added: “Serving the people of our great state was Mike Miller’s life’s work, and he did so with unrelenting passion and courage for a remarkable 50 years. Even as he waged a hard-fought battle with cancer, I was blessed to continue to benefit from Mike’s wisdom and trademark humor. He was, in every sense, a lion of the Senate.”
Hogan said that “effectively immediately” Maryland flags will fly at half-staff in honor of Miller and that the state’s flags will remain at that posture until “sunset on the day of interment.”
House Speaker Adrienne Jones said: :I was fortunate to have received his counsel and advice when I became Speaker. He was as kind and generous as he was powerful: a combination that leads to a once-in-a-generation leader and statesman who we can all emulate.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a former state senator, said: “Maryland has lost a giant, and I have lost a dear friend. Governors have come and gone, but Mike Miller was a historic figure and force of nature, always pushing our state forward. His legacy of results for Marylanders is unmatched.”
Republicans too mourned Miller’s passing. “As Senate President, he fostered a culture of collegiality and mutual respect, regardless of political party. Reaching a hand across the aisle was never the wrong thing to do,” said Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire. “As our nation and state navigate tumultuous and challenging times, we would all be wise to remember his legacy and remain steadfast in our commitment to do the work of the people.”