Speaker Busch Has Heart Bypass Surgery; Office Promises Swift Recovery

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), who has battled various health problems over the past two years, underwent heart bypass surgery Wednesday night, his office announced Thursday evening.

“Yesterday, Speaker Busch was at the University of Maryland Medical Center for a routine test,” the statement from Busch’s office said. “He was experiencing shortness of breath so doctors recommended additional testing to determine the cause. Based on the test results, Speaker Busch underwent bypass surgery at approximately 7 pm last night. He is awake, alert and is expected to make a full recovery. He will return to work and the campaign trail in the next few weeks.”

Busch speaks behind a podium with a seal on it in shirtsleeves at an outdoor event
House Speaker Michael E. Busch

 Coincidentally, Busch had a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday night at Topside of Mt. Vernon, a rooftop bar in Baltimore. The fundraiser went on without him.

According to attendees, Busch’s chief of staff, Alexandra Hughes, along with three senior lawmakers – House Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s) and incoming House Judiciary Chairman Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) – announced to the crowd that Busch had been ill but was feeling better. They did not disclose details.

Busch, 71, underwent a liver transplant in June 2017 following months of looking thin and jaundiced. He returned to work about two months later.

Busch, who was elected to the House in 1986 and has served as speaker since 2003, was running a vigorous campaign for reelection and was also working aggressively to help other Democrats, particularly in Anne Arundel County.

Well-wishes quickly began pouring in from fellow politicians Thursday night.

“I’m wishing Speaker Busch the best as he goes through what I know is a tough surgery,” Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said in a statement and on Twitter. “Yumi and I send our prayers to Mike and his family as he recovers, and I look forward to continuing our work together soon.”

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous said in a statement that he’s “glad to hear he’s expected to make a full recovery and look forward to seeing him again soon.”

The Capital newspaper reported that Busch, who has been deputy director of Anne Arundel County’s Department of Recreation and Parks for years, is planning to retire from that post in mid-October.

Busch’s latest health scare is sure to spark another round of rumors in Annapolis about his long-term plans – and potential successors as speaker. McIntosh and Davis have long been thought to be interested in the job, but both are close to Busch and have been reluctant to take public steps to show they are making political plans.

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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