ATLANTA — The Latest on the death of former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

A top Democratic Party operative says the United States might not have “had a Bill Clinton presidency without Zell Miller.”

Paul Begala helped Miller win the Georgia governor’s race in 1990. Miller later introduced Begala to the Arkansas governor who would win the White House in 1992.

Begala says Miller’s support was key to Clinton winning an important Georgia presidential primary in 1992 when his bid for the Democratic nomination was still uncertain.

Begala adds that Miller’s focus on economic opportunity influenced Clinton and other Democrats of the era. Begala recalls Miller telling Democrats they were right on divisive social issues but warned that “you cannot let that drive your focus … because everybody needs a job.”

Miller died Friday at the age of 86.


5 p.m.

The former Georgia governor who appointed Zell Miller to the U.S. Senate says the late Southern Democrat played a big role in shaping the state.

Democrat Roy Barnes succeeded Miller as governor in 2000. Barnes said of Miller: “Governors generally give us just a line or two in history. He will give us a whole paragraph.”

Miller died Friday at age 86. He served two terms as Georgia governor from 1991 until 1999. Barnes appointed him to the Senate after Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell died in 2000.

Barnes said Miller’s upbringing amid widespread poverty in the north Georgia mountains and his service in the Marine Corps gave him “an independence, some would say a stubbornness, but also a resolute focus on purpose.”


4:40 p.m.

Former President Jimmy Carter calls former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia a “good friend” who left an “indelible mark” on the state with a “straight-talking approach to politics.”

Carter served as Georgia governor from 1971 to 1975. Before that, he and Miller served together as state senators.

Miller died Friday at the age of 86 in the north Georgia mountains. The 93-year-old former president still lives in his south Georgia hometown of Plains.

Carter said Miller’s education lottery was a model for other states but never equaled in its impact.

A Naval Academy graduate, Carter also praised Miller for his service as a Marine and his “patriotic love of both his state and his nation.”


4:15 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush says “a great patriot has passed away” in former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia.

Bush said in a statement Friday that Miller “was an example of service before self, country before party, principle before poll.”

Miller died Friday at his home in the north Georgia mountains. He served two terms as governor in the 1990s, followed by four years in the Senate.

The stubbornly independent Democrat outraged members of his own party when Miller delivered a keynote address endorsing Bush’s re-election during the 2004 Republican National Convention. Miller called Bush “the man I trust to protect my most precious possession: my family.”


3:50 p.m.

A grandson of former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia says he died “peacefully” and surrounded by three generations of family.

Miller died Friday at age 86 in the same mountain home where he grew up with his widowed mother, who built the house from rocks she pulled from a nearby stream.

His grandson, Bryan Miller, told a news conference that he and other relatives “were able to spend the last 24 hours of his life with him and I can tell you he died peacefully, comfortably.”

Miller was a Democrat who served two terms as Georgia governor in the 1990s followed by four years in the U.S. Senate. His family revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Bryan Miller said funeral arrangements have not been finalized.


12:30 p.m.

The Georgia Republican who succeeded Democrat Zell Miller in the U.S. Senate says, “We need more people like him.”

Miller died Friday at age 86. GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson became close friends with Miller even though the two men were bitter rivals in their race for Georgia governor in 1990. Miller was victorious and later reached across party lines to appoint Isakson to chair the state school board.

Isakson praised Miller for maintaining an “independent streak that was governed by what he thought was right.” Miller’s stubborn independence could put him at odds with fellow Democrats. While serving in the Senate, Miller agreed to deliver a stirring keynote speech for then-President George W. Bush at the 2004 Republican National Convention.


11:20 a.m.

Former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat who led the charge for Georgia’s lottery-funded HOPE scholarships during his two terms as governor, has died. He was 86.

Lori Geary, a spokeswoman for the Miller Institute Foundation, said he died Friday morning. His grandson, Bryan Miller, said the former senator and governor died “peacefully surrounded by his family.”

Miller’s relatives announced last year that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Miller served as Georgia governor from 1991 to 1999. He was called out of retirement at age 68 in 2000 to fill the final four years of a Senate term. The lifelong Democrat spent most of the term attacking his own party for veering away from mainstream values, and cast many of his votes with Republicans.