Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller died Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the Miller family said: "At 4:25 p.m. this afternoon, Maryland Senate President Emeritus Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by loved ones. He was 78 years old.
"He's 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 15 grandchildren, and was predeceased by his sister Judith."
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Some called Miller "Iron Mike" for his unrelenting grip on the state Senate. Many considered him the most powerful and respected leader in state government because of his ability to balance polar ideological differences and deftly find a consensus.
In October 2019, Miller stepped down from his post of Senate president due to health issues related to prostate cancer. In January 2019, on the second day of the legislative session, Miller announced he was fighting stage 4 prostate cancer.
"It affects every decision you make, so you look in the morning to see if your hair is still there," Miller said.
He became emotional when talking about his staff.
"I always had the best people," Miller said.
Miller was an old school Democrat and Irish Catholic who combined his religious beliefs with his political views. Many viewed him as a bundle of contradictions. He solidified control of the Senate chamber by adapting to change.
He allowed bills he personally opposed -- like same sex marriage -- to move forward for the greater good. And Miller let the Senate decide whether to repeal the death penalty, even though he supported it.
The progressive wing of the Democratic Party and labor groups unsuccessfully pressured Miller to move faster on increasing the state minimum wage. He let the bill pass the Senate when he thought the time was right.
Left-leaning lawmakers pushed for the Sick Leave Act for six years before Miller allowed the bill to move in the Senate.
One of his biggest miscalculations, though, was his 1989 public comments about Baltimore City, which killed his hopes of a shot at being governor.
"I mean Baltimore is a (expletive) ghetto. It's worse than the inner city of Washington, D.C.," Miller had said.
Miller apologized. Read more at WBALTV