BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is mourning the loss of Maryland Speaker Michael Busch a day after he died from complications from pneumonia.
Pugh, who’s currently on a leave of absence following a hospitalization for pneumonia and amid controversy around her children’s book deal, tweeted, “I join my colleagues in government in mourning the passing of the longest-serving state House speaker in Maryland history.”
“He was a great leader, legislator and public servant. It was an honor to have served under Speaker Busch’s leadership. He fought a courageous battle as he faced challenging health issues,” tweeted Pugh.
Pugh herself is on a leave of absence while she recovers from pneumonia. Council president Jack Young is acting mayor.
“My prayers are with Cynthia, Erin, Megan and the rest of the Busch family during their time of grief. I mourn with legislators, political leaders, as well as, the community which has supported him for decades,” Pugh continued in her tweet.
City council members called for Pugh’s resignation Monday morning.
Pugh released a statement Monday however saying she ” fully intends to resume the duties of her office.”
“Mayor Pugh has taken a leave to focus on recovering from pneumonia and regaining her health. She fully intends to resume the duties of her office and continuing her work on behalf of the people and the City of Baltimore,” Pugh’s spokesman said.
Other Maryland leaders mourned Busch’s loss Monday. Busch died Sunday at age 72. He had battled liver cancer but died from pneumonia.
Sen. Barbara A. Milkulski (D-Md.) also issues a statement Monday following Busch’s death:
Joining with Maryland in mourning, I wish to extend my condolences to the Busch family and to express my gratitude for Speaker Busch’s decades-long service to our state.
I knew and admired Speaker Busch since he first started at the Maryland House of Delegates. And though everyone called him “Coach,” I called him “Champ,” because he always stood-up for the little guys and gals. It was with great honor that I received the 2018 Speakers Medallion from Speaker Busch.
Speaker Busch came to the Maryland General Assembly as a high school history teacher and youth athletics coach; in the process he made history by becoming Maryland’s longest-serving Speaker of the House of Delegates and coached a new generation of Delegates to fight for what matters for the day-to-day needs of their constituents and the long-range needs of the State.
Speaker Mike Busch championed many issues during his tenure as Speaker. Whether it was funding for our schools, protecting our Bay, or fighting for equal rights for all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation – he not only made a difference, he made lasting change for every Marylander.
Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Sunday, mourning Busch and calling for state flags to fly at half staff.
“This is a profoundly sad day for Maryland. Mike Busch was a giant in our government—the longest serving Speaker in our state’s history. He cared deeply about improving the lives of Marylanders, and his legacy is evident in his many legislative achievements,” Hogan tweeted.
Robert Chalet, chancellor of University System of Maryland issued the following statement.
I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch. Mike Busch was a leader who made a difference in education, and a leader who made a difference in so many ways.
His passing will be felt by many, now and into the future.
Starting in 2003, Michael Busch became the longest-serving House Speaker in Maryland history.
Signs of mourning and remembrance filled the House floor Monday.
“Coming here- seeing the rostrum draped in black, it’s hard to hold back the tears,” said Delegate Kathy Szegalia (R-Baltimore, Harford Counties).
“From him being a friend, to being a mentor, to him basically being my boss basically it’s just been…I couldn’t imagine someone doing his job any better,” said Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore).
That job wielded considerable power over what policies would become law. They included the controversial, like eliminating the death penalty in Maryland to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“He evolved, he grew on tough issues and that’s why we’re a better state for his having been one of our servants,” said Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (D-Baltimore).
Other issues, including protecting the Chesapeake, Busch brought with him to Annapolis.
That and bettering Maryland’s schools, were frequent goals of his own proposed legislation.
And while he enjoyed an overwhelming Democratic majority, Republicans found fairness.
“Politics can be pretty rotten, and in this place he lifted it up. He kept the debate fair and he allowed the Republicans to have a voice. Which wouldn’t be true in other places in the country,” said Delegate Nic Kipke (R-Anne Arundel County).
Stay with WJZ as we hear from other’s about Busch’s legacy here in Maryland