Thomas V. Mike Miller, the nation’s longest-serving Senate president, revealed Thursday he has prostate cancer but plans to continue working during the 90-day session.
Miller, 76, who resides in Calvert County but represents both Calvert and Prince George’s counties, released a statement and gave a few remarks behind his desk inside the Senate chamber.
“The issue shouldn’t be about me, it should be about the great work of the Senate,” he said.
In his statement, Miller said he was diagnosed in July and also dealt with hip and knee replacement surgery last year. Although prescribed medicines and continued physical therapy, he said he awoke Dec. 27 with a sharp pain in his leg and his doctor informed him he must undergo chemotherapy treatments.
“I share my personal health issues with you as the president of the body I love so dearly because I believe I owe you my honesty in person as soon as I was made aware of my changed condition,” he said in the statement. “With your continued support and indulgence, I fully intend to fight this disease as so many have and to fully carry out my Senate responsibilities.”
He didn’t appear at the annual Democratic luncheon and on Wednesday, he walked with a cane and welcomed new and returning senators, family and friends inside a packed chamber. He unanimously became elected as the Senate president and held that position for more than three decades.
Miller, a devout Catholic, has served in the Senate since 1974 and gained the respect of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Some less experienced lawmakers have asked permission for approval to deliberate on certain pieces of legislation.
Gov. Larry Hogan, who also battled cancer his first year in office, said he knows “firsthand how hard it is to receive a diagnosis like this.”
“Mike’s tenacity, bravery and perseverance will ensure that he wins this battle, and he has my full support,” Hogan said in a statement.
Last year while running for re-election, Miller received some criticism for controlling which certain pieces of legislation gets reviewed, which included a proposal to change the Prince George’s school board to an all-elected body. The measure never left the committee for a debate on the Senate floor.
A progressive group of lawmakers seeks stronger legislation to combat President Donald Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially with Democrats now in control of the House.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who has known Miller and his family for more than 20 years, lauded him as a “huge champion for Prince George’s County in Annapolis.”
“Agree or disagree with his stances, he has fought hard for Prince George’s County,” she said. “He’s been through decades confronting many difficult challenges. I do wish him well and we are praying for his full recovery.”
Besides Miller’s work in education, civil rights and economic development, Alsobrooks said one of his biggest achievement is the county receiving approval to open a new hospital in Largo. The 11-story, $543 million regional medical center currently under construction could open in 2021.
“He stood up tall and forced the right thing to happen to deliver to Prince George’s County the medical facility that we deserve,” she said. “That could not have happened without his leadership.”
As for Miller, the Senate pro tem will be Katherine A. Klausmeier of Baltimore County, who will preside over the chamber in Miller’s absence.
Miller expressed thanks with a straightforward message.
“There are not enough words to thank you all for your continued support and service to our great state of Maryland,” he said in the statement. “Now, let’s get to work.”