Maryland Chatters Ep. 06: Mike Miller’s Chiefs of Staff

The Maryland Senate chamber. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

The late Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D) was one of the most consequential figures in Maryland political history. Love him or hate him, his record-breaking tenure as a presiding officer in the General Assembly — a stunning 33 years — means he was central player in every significant political fight and policy debate over the past several decades. His knowledge of history and his political skills were unparalleled. He had strong personal beliefs, but he also had an innate sense of where his caucus, and the Senate, and the entire state were moving — and adjusted accordingly.

He was of course a powerhouse in Annapolis, but he also had enormous influence in Prince George’s County (where he grew up and came of age politically), throughout all of Southern Maryland, and in the judiciary and criminal justice system. Governors came and went, but Mike Miller was always there. He served with eight governors, beginning with Marvin Mandel.

The tributes to Miller really began in January of 2019, when he first revealed that he had stage 4 prostate cancer. They continued that fall, when he gave up the gavel as Senate president, and continued into 2020 when the Senate hung his portrait in the chamber, and at the end of the year, when he resigned his Senate seat. And of course, his death this January at the age of 78 was a sad and seminal moment.

There was a lot of talk about how Mike Miller loved the state of Maryland, loved the state Senate, loved the University of Maryland (his alma mater), and loved his big and formidable family. But he also had a second family that he loved and admired and was forever loyal to — his staff.

On the latest episode of Maryland Chatters, our occasional podcasting series, we to talk to three of Miller’s former chiefs of staff:

Joseph C. Bryce, who held the job for three years in the mid- and late 1990’s and is now a lobbyist with the firm Manis Canning and Associates; Victoria L. Gruber, who served in the job from 2006 to 2017 and today is the executive director of the Department of Legislative Services in Annapolis; and Yaakov “Jake” Weissmann, who was Miller’s last chief of staff and holds that role now for Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City).

Josh Kurtz
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.