Former Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller retired Wednesday, citing his poor health in a letter to his successor and ending a nearly 50-year career in public office.
Mr. Miller, 78, has been battling prostate cancer since he was diagnosed with the disease in July 2018, which he disclosed at the start of the General Assembly session in January 2019. The 2021 session is to begin Jan. 13.
“My heart and my mind remain strong, but my body has grown too weak to meet the demands of another legislative session. I must now retire from the august body of Senate of Maryland and take my leave of public life,” he said Wednesday in a three-page letter to Senate President Bill Ferguson.
The nation’s longest-serving state Senate leader, Mr. Miller presided over Maryland’s upper chamber from 1987 to January of this year, when Mr. Ferguson succeeded him.
Representing areas in Southern Maryland, the lifelong Democrat first served in the Maryland House of Delegates beginning in 1971. In 1975, Mr. Miller began his state Senate career, switching from representing the 28th District to the 27th District in 1983.
Accolades for Mr. Miller poured in Wednesday.
“On behalf of a grateful state, I want to thank my good friend Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller for 50 incredible years of public service to the people of Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a written statement.
Mr. Hogan, a Republican, said that he had talked to Mr. Miller over the weekend as the longtime state senator was preparing to make his announcement, adding that it was a “deeply personal and heartfelt conversation.”
“I have known Mike since I was a kid, and it has been one of my greatest privileges as governor to serve alongside him,” Mr. Hogan said. “He will go down in our state’s history as a lion of the Senate.”
Mr. Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat, expressed gratitude for Mr. Miller’s sharing of his “experience and guidance.”
“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,” Mr. Ferguson said in a written statement.
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones tweeted: “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 Calvert County Board of Commissioners issued a statement, saying the “enduring effects of his distinguished service and tremendous leadership will be felt for many decades to come.”