Statements of grief and sympathy at the death of House Speaker Michael Busch came quickly from both sides of the political aisle and all around the state.
"My heart is broken for Mike Busch’s family, the State of Maryland, and the Speaker's extended family - elected officials and staff that he has been a mentor and coach to over his time in public service," Senate President Mike Miller wrote in a statement.
"Mike has been a friend for years, and has led the state to new heights of environmentalism and education, while ensuring that a new generation of leaders move our state forward," Miller wrote. "He was a true model of a State Delegate; he cared for every corner of the state, but never forgot about the people he was elected to represent."
Gov. Larry Hogan, who crossed swords recently with Busch over several issues, called him "a giant in our government."
"This is a profoundly sad day for Maryland,” Hogan wrote. “He cared deeply about improving the lives of Marylanders, and his legacy is evident in his many legislative achievements.
“Speaker Busch and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we often came together in the best interests of the people of Maryland. He served with the decency and good nature of a teacher, a coach, and a family man. I was honored to know him and to work closely with him.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh wrote that Busch “was an exemplar of what public service is about.”
“He was honest, selfless, intelligent and giving,” frosh said in a statement. “He represents the best that democracy has to offer. Our State owes him a debt of gratitude.”
“Maryland has lost one of her greatest champions today,” said US Senator Chris van Hollen, who once served with Busch in the House of Delegates. “And I have lost a dear friend and former colleague. Mike Busch was a titan of unstinting character who served the state he grew up in and did his job for Marylanders with passion, integrity, determination, and exuberance.”
US Senator Ben Cardin, a former Speaker of the House of Delegates, called Busch “a force in Annapolis” who “left a progressive imprint on the state that without hyperbole will last for generations.”
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said in a statement Busch was a friend long before he wasa political colleague.
“He will always be remembered as the people’s politician. He stood up for our kids, our schools, recreation, health care, and a living wage,” Buckley said. “He made a difference in all the things that matter to the average person.”
The state of Maryland may have lost its Speaker of the House, Buckley said. But the “city of Annapolis has lost a true friend.”
Statements came from environmental and union groups as well.
The Maryland chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) called Speaker Busch “a lifelong servant of the citizens of Maryland and a friend to labor and education” whose leadership in the House of Delegates “has been beyond remarkable.”
No matter what was happening statewide, the AFT statement said, Busch made sure “students and teachers wouldn’t be sacrificed.”
Glenard Middleton, the executive director of AFSCME Maryland Council, which represents government employees, wrote that he was “heart-broken with the sad news of the death of my friend Speaker Michael Busch.”
He called Busch “a staunch advocate for working families” who “spent his entire career on the side of working men and women.”
Mike Tidwell, Director of the environmental advocates, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, wrote that Busch “was the strongest friend the environment ever had in his role as Speaker.”
“Throughout his tenure he fought for cleaner air, cleaner cars, and a pollution-free future in the face of climate change. We will always remember his legacy, and we will miss him dearly."
And the University of Maryland Medical System, the subject of a reform bill that the speaker began pushing before he was hospitalized, issued a statement calling Busch “a champion for the healthcare industry across Maryland” who “always had the best interest of the people of Maryland at the forefront of decisions that he made.”