Thomas ‘Mike’ Miller has been a student of politics since he was knee-high reading government civics lesson in school. And over the past four decades, the star pupil has since become the Master of Public Policy and the gatekeeper of Maryland politics.
However yesterday, the 78-year old Senate President told his colleagues that he would reveal news later today that many speculate revolve around the information first reported on by fellow journalist Bryan Sears in the Daily Record, that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. This shocking and sad news came as many newly elected members were celebrating their recent election victory with family members, being sworn-in by Miller as official members of the Maryland State Senate.
Miller, a Clinton, Maryland native who is the longest serving Senate President in the state’s history, and the longest serving presiding officer in the country; revealed that he is in fact human, after many in the legislative process reveled in his dominance and supremacy over the years, dubbing him the Senate’s ‘Superman’. First elected to office in 1970 to the Maryland House of Delegates, Miller was elected Senator just four years later, and quickly rose in the ranks to first be elected President of the 47-member chamber on January 21, 1987.
Senator Miller has been a staple of state politics over the past three decades, regardless of who became the Governor, most insiders knew that it was Miller that really controlled the direction of policy coming from Annapolis. Having served as the presiding officer of the state senate over eight terms, through five governors and three House Speakers; Miller’s tenure has seen many twists and turns, ups and downs, but the one constant has always been the stalwart leadership of the senator from the 28th district.
In fact, when Miller was first elected President of the State Senate, incoming freshmen state senators from Baltimore City, Cory McCray (D-45) and Antonio Hayes (D-40), were five and ten years old, respectively; while the senior state senator for the city’s senate delegation, Senator Bill Ferguson, was a ripe four years of age. And despite the different waves that have come through over the past thirty years, such as last year’s ‘progressive blue wave’ that brought in seventeen newly elected and eager members to the senate chambers; Miller has been able to retain is powerful hold over the prestigious body, ensuring that his will be done.
Referencing the body of legislators that he commands as “the band” yesterday, Miller made assertions that he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “I’m going to stay around until the band stops playing, and these guys are that band”, Miller said. However, he has always maintained that when they want him to step aside, he would willingly do so; which doesn’t seem likely, especially given the fact that nobody has even tried to garner the votes needed to replace him.
However, Miller’s new challenge, one that he can’t “keep in a committee drawer” or “lay it over” never to be seen or heard from again, is one that will certainly be his most difficult to date. But knowing the Master of Maryland politics, I’m sure it is one he is ready to tackle head-on. And while most will tell you that Senate President Miller can either be a powerful ally or a menacing nemesis; I would put my money on Miller in this battle, regardless of the diagnosis, as I don’t foresee the Senate’s Superman taking off his cape anytime soon.