The final day of the 90-day Maryland legislature is often one of celebration and sadness, victory and defeat, joy, sorrow, relief and thanksgiving,
Bills die, bills get enacted, bills are gutted, others get greased through.
For 17 sessions since 2003, two constants on the final day were the two Mikes presiding. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr, president of the Maryland Senate whom at MarylandReporter.com we call simply Mike Miller, and Michael Erin Busch, speaker of the House of Delegates.
Now Busch is gone, dead Sunday afternoon after a series of medical problems. Until two years ago, he was a vigorous, energetic, athletic man in firm command of an unruly bunch of 140 delegates who called him “coach.”
In spring 1988, walking along Main Street at the corner of Conduit Street in Annapolis, I can recall so clearly being waved into one of the several restaurants that have occupied that site by a young freshman Republican delegate from Baltimore County named Bob Ehrlich. In their second session, he introduced me to his three freshmen buddies having lunch together — Kevin Kelly, Bruce Poole and a slightly older Democrat named Mike Busch.
The political leanings of Republican Ehrlich and Democrat Busch were closer back then. They would finally have a disastrous falling out over slots gambling when Ehrlich became governor and Busch became speaker the same year in 2003.
Former Congressman Ehrlich found the legislature where he had served disrespectful, and Busch found his former Republican friend less than competent.
MarylandReporter.com will link to standard lengthy and laudatory obituaries in multiple places. Die with your boots on in office and you get a better write up, but especially if you were as universally well-liked and respected as Busch.
Until his last two years, when illness, a liver transplant and heart bypass surgery kept him at a distance, Busch was a frequent visitor to the press pit downstairs from his own office at the State House. He was friendly, though not a friend, funny though often with barbs attached, forthcoming when it suited him, and a man of power who could exercise it lightly or with a firm fist.
Here is a gallery of photos MarylandReporter.com and others have taken of Speaker Busch over the last decade.
Receptions with food and drink abound on Sine Die, when the legislature adjourns “without a day, as the Latin phrase has it. But it will be an awkward and solemn day without Mike Busch.
Jan. 9 this year, House Speaker Michael Busch is sworn in by Speaker Pro-Tempore Adrienne Jones, left, as Busch daughters Megan and Erin hold a bible and wife Cynthia Busch looks on. Jones has presided for Busch for several weeks now. Governor’s Office photo on Facebook.
As usual on opening day of the legislative session, House Speaker Michael Busch and Gov. Larry Hogan were all smiles at the House of Delegates rostrum. Governor’s Office photo
On March 1, 2017 The House of Delegates honored the late Lou Davis on Tuesday for his 50 years in broadcasting, of which 30 were spent covering Annapolis for WMAR and later WMPT.
His family was there to accept a posthumous citation in his honor from House Speaker Michael Busch. “He was an individual that was universally respected here,” Busch said in a tribute to Davis during Tuesday’s House session. “He is a legendary figure, a man for all seasons.”
Senate President Mike Miller, Gov. Larry Hogan and House Speaker Michael Busch at an April 2018 bill signing. Governor’s Office photo
House Speaker Michael Busch welcomes Gov. Larry Hogan to the rostrum for the 2018 State of the State address. The two seemed to get along better after Busch’s medical problems and the governor’s cancer. Governor’s Office photo
With Mike Busch at the podium, Democratic legislators announced their priorities Tuesday. House Speaker Michael Busch is at the podium, MarylandReporter.com photo by Diane Rey
On April Fool’s Day 2016, Speaker Busch and Senate President Miller switched roles and presided in each other’s chamber.
A rare and unsual photo from October 19, 2011: Speaker of the House Mike Busch stands next to Senate President Mike Miller’s rostrum, waiting for the Senate to vote on Gov. O’Malley’s redistricting bill. MarylandReporter.com photo by Len Lazarick
From left, Sen. President Miller, Gov. Hogan and House Speaker Busch join in song from a Dec. 10, 2015 video by Ovetta Wiggins, the Washington Post. Only Hogan can carry a tune.
As he did for hundreds of delegates over the years, Busch appears at a political fundraiser for Del. Cory McCray in June 2015. McCray is now a senator. MarylandReporter.com photo by Len Lazarick
Busch, a former history teacher, was a strong supporter of education and the state teacher’s union, MSEA
Busch served as speaker with three governors, including Martin O’Malley. All together, his career spanned five governors.
A weary House Speaker Michael Busch talks to reporters after midnight on Sine Die 2012. MarylandReporter.com photo by Len Lazarick
House Speaker Michael Busch talks to reporters Monday afternoon Sine Die 2012.
An emotional Speaker of the House Michael Busch speaks to reporters after the same-sex marriage bill passes the House with a 72-67 vote, while Del. Heather Mizeur looks on. MarylandReporter.com photo
In January 2011, Busch donned a Ravens jersey for a rally at the State House as the team headed to the playoffs. MarylandReporter.com photo
Jan. 19, 2011, Busch speaks at Gov. Marin O’Malley’s second inauguration.
This photo from 2011 shows Busch with the portrait of the man he succeeded after Speaker Casper Taylor Jr. lost his re-election in 2002. Busch’s portrait will likely take its place.,
Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board
He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009.
He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.