Political, civic and business leaders across the state mourned the death of House Speaker Michael Busch Sunday, hailing him as a leader whose commitment to his native state was unswerving and whose personal integrity was unassailable.
“Mike and I were elected to the House of Delegates on the same day in 1986,” said Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. “I have treasured his friendship ever since, and the people of Maryland have benefited every day for the past 32-plus years from his service and his leadership. Mike was an exemplar of what public service is about. He was honest, selfless, intelligent and giving. He represents the best that democracy has to offer.”
“When I served in the Maryland House of Delegates with Mike, many of us would fondly call him ‘coach,’” said U.S. Sen. Chris van Hollen. “Not just because his office was packed with photos of him coaching various youth sports teams and his history as a football star, but because he always had a way of bringing out the best in everyone who had the privilege of learning from him. We were all part of Team Maryland.”
Busch possessed leadership qualities that are rarely found today, said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. “He was respectful of legislators and advocates with divergent political philosophies and always made them feel that they had a fair chance to express their views,” Fry said. “He was always mindful of the importance of the General Assembly as an institution and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the body. Those traits explain how he became the longest-serving speaker of the House in Maryland’s history.”
Republicans said that while Busch often was their foe on policy issues he invariably was a respectful and honest opponent.
“While we often didn’t agree, he was loved not only by his Democrat colleagues but by Republicans in the General Assembly as well due to his leadership style and caring nature,” said Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire.
“I will always remember how he treated those of us in the minority party with respect and worked with us for the good of all citizens,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. “As the president of MACo, I know firsthand that he supported our efforts on behalf of all counties in the state.”
Spokespersons for issues that Busch had fought for hailed his work.
“The Chesapeake Bay lost a champion today,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost. “While there were many issues that were near and dear to Speaker Busch, he elevated saving the Bay to a priority for the General Assembly, and legislators followed his lead. He will be sorely missed.”
Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland’s Citizens Health Initiative and a longtime health care activist, said Busch had been committed to expanding health care accessibility to all Marylanders.
“Nobody has done more to expand health care access and improve public health in Maryland than Speaker Mike Busch,” DeMarco said.
“He had a sixth sense for doing what was right and he was a fighter for those things. He was the leader for Democratic values in Maryland,” said Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley. “But he also loved what he did. There is no one that has impacted local politics in the same way. The state of Maryland has lost its speaker of the House. The City of Annapolis has lost a true friend.”
“His leadership, compassion and commitment to making a better Maryland will be sorely missed, but all of those whom he coached and mentored during his more than three decades in the State House stand ready to carry the torch,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
Baltimore acting Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young said Busch had stood up for Baltimore during the April 2015 riots.
“In the aftermath of the unrest in Baltimore, the speaker traveled to Baltimore to meet with me as he rallied around the city and was the architect of an ambitious multi-year, multimillion-dollar funding plan that helped eliminate blight and contributed to enhanced recreational opportunities for young people,” Young said.