Upon Retirement, Miller Remembered as ‘Lion of the Senate’

Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) tells a story to his colleagues on the first day of the 2020 legislative session. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

For 33 years, Calvert County’s Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) wielded the gavel below the Tiffany glass ceiling in Maryland’s marble-clad Senate chamber. He would point to the portraits on the walls and tell stories from deep in the history books. He’d give senators a full run-down of their predecessors and rattle off factoids about every nook and cranny in the state capitol.

On Wednesday, Miller closed the book on one chapter of his life ― a very long one ― resigning his seat representing the 27th Senate District after nearly a half-century in the General Assembly.

And his announcement produced a virtual deluge of stories, memories and well wishes from Maryland’s political class. We gather some of them here:

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City)

“Over the last year, my relationship with Senator Miller has evolved in ways that I will be forever grateful, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to rely regularly on his experience and guidance. I am both saddened that he is unable to continue serving the people of the 27th District due to his illness, but honored to be able to celebrate his historic legacy of service to the people of Maryland over these last 50 years. I know how difficult a decision this has been for him to make, yet I also know that it is one based off the interests of his constituents and the people of Maryland, the quintessential trait of Senator Miller.

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.”

House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County)

“I want to congratulate Senator Miller on an amazing career of legendary service. He became a close friend and trusted advisor when I was elected Speaker. He has left an indelible mark on the State as a fierce advocate for public schools and champion for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Legislature won’t be the same without his wisdom and larger-than-life presence, but his legacy will impact generations to come.”

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R)

“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.

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.

The First Lady and I ask all Marylanders to join us in praying for Mike and his family.”

U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)

“Thomas V. “Mike” Miller is one of the giants of Maryland history, and the history of the Maryland General Assembly. His retirement announcement brings to a close an extraordinarily productive and consequential career. For fifty years, Mike Miller has served the people of Maryland with honor and distinction. His determination and resolve in the face of his illness reflect both his courage and his grace.

Though Mike will be leaving the Senate, his legacy fighting for equality for all, access to education, affordable health care, economic opportunities, and protecting the Chesapeake Bay will continue to bear fruit for the people of the state he served so well for so long.

Mike Miller has been my friend and colleague for more than half a century. Every time he ran for office, we ran on a ticket together. He could be tough and gruff and even profane, but his heart has been filled with a compassion and concern for the people he served, directly and indirectly. His absence from the Senate will render it a lesser place.

I have been honored and privileged to have Mike as a dear friend. Though he is leaving office, I know he won’t stop fighting for Marylanders. I will continue to keep him in my prayers.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

“Mike Miller is a student of Maryland history and his departure from its Senate marks the end of an era. Governors have come and gone, but Senator Miller, with unmatched political acumen, has steered Maryland on a progressive course and toward a more perfect union.

Senator Miller has dedicated his life to serving Marylanders and set the gold standard for true leadership in the State Senate. I was proud to serve with him. He is a dear friend and his mentorship and wisdom remain invaluable to me. As he continues his battle with cancer, he knows that Katherine and I are in his corner every step of the way.”

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)

“Mike Miller has served the people of Maryland with honor for decades. I salute his public service and wish him well as he battles the greatest challenge of his life.”

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R)

“I had the honor to serve with President Miller for 16 years in the legislature, seven of which were in the Senate. He was always a friend and faithful supporter of Harford County during his tenure. We are thankful for his service and send prayers to give him strength in the days ahead.”

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D)

“Today’s announcement that Maryland Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. is stepping down from the Senate should cause all of us to reflect on the value of public service and what can be accomplished if you make that commitment. Senate President Miller has had a long, distinguished career, addressing the needs of his constituents in District 27 and, as Senate President, the needs of all Marylanders. During his tenure, he navigated numerous economic boom and bust, and worked with governors from both parties. He understands people — and he understands politics. As a result, he built successful coalitions when the time came for change, whether it was the need to make major investments in the State’s public schools or pass stricter gun laws.

I first worked with him for several years on the unification of Takoma Park. Although he was the Senate President at the time, I learned quickly that, on this issue, he was first and foremost a member of the Prince Georges Delegation with strong feelings about protecting the interests of his constituents. He was, and still is, a tough negotiator, but the outcome was fair to the residents of both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Senator Miller’s legacy speaks for itself. Fifty years of service to Maryland — 50 years of progress. He has had a hand in so much of this. The great State of Maryland would not be what it is today without his unrelenting commitment to making it a better place, nor would Montgomery County. On behalf of the residents of Montgomery County, I offer my deepest gratitude.”

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D)

“For five decades, former Senate President Senator Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. has been a storied leader in Annapolis and throughout the state. He advocated for the protection of our beloved Chesapeake Bay, the best quality education for our students, and above all else – was a devoted public servant and mentor to dozens of legislators in every jurisdiction.

I am incredibly grateful for his friendship and partnership, consistently working to improve the lives of those in Howard County and across Maryland. Please join me in sending Senator Miller and the entire Miller family continued love and strength.”

Sen. Cory V. McCray (D), chair of the Baltimore City Senate Delegation

“Senator Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr. has served his constituents faithfully for nearly 50 years and his retirement is an institutional loss for the Senate, General Assembly, and the State of Maryland.

I have known Senate President Emeritus Miller since I first came to the General Assembly in 2015 and have always been impressed by his intelligence, tenacity, and respect for our governmental institutions. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with Senator Miller on all manner of budget and taxation issues, whether in his role as Senate President or as a member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, on which I serve. Thanks to Senator Miller’s leadership — and pulse on the legislature — the State of Maryland has closed budget deficits year after year and have championed great social causes.

In everything that he did, such as making history as the longest serving State Senate President in the country, it was evident that his constituents were always at the forefront of his mind as he made vital decisions relating to Maryland’s future.

While Senate President Emeritus Miller’s service in the Maryland General Assembly comes to an end, I am sure his service to our Great State will not. I am honored to have counted him as a colleague and proud to call him a friend.”

Timothy F. Maloney, member of the Maryland Catholic Conference Administrative Board and former state delegate

“For half a century, Mike Miller provided unequaled service to the people of Maryland, always motivated by his faith and love of our state. On countless occasions, his leadership and counsel made all the difference for the work of the Maryland Catholic Conference. We celebrate his legacy and our thoughts are with him and his family during this holiest of seasons.”

Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines covered government and politics for Maryland Matters for two years before moving into an editing position. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post ― as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at The Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.