House Speaker Mike Busch, one of the three most powerful elected officials in Maryland, underwent heart bypass surgery Wednesday, a spokeswoman for his office said.
The Annapolis Democrat is expected to remain hospitalized for approximately one week, Busch’s chief of staff Alexandra Hughes said Thursday. Once he is released he will be expected to remain at home and rest for one to two more weeks.
Busch, 71, is in the midst of a re-election campaign in District 30. Hughes said the surgery would not affect Busch’s campaign plans.
The surgery is the second major health issue for Busch in little more than a year.
The house speaker announced in early June 2017 that he had received a liver transplant after doctors diagnosed him with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a form of liver disease. His recovery lasted several weeks, and he was back at work when the General Assembly reconvened in January.
I’m wishing Speaker Busch the best as he goes through what I know is a tough surgery. Yumi and I send our prayers to Mike and his family as he recovers, and I look forward to continuing our work together soon. https://t.co/nzf4maDXsY
In a statement Thursday, Hughes said Busch had been at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore for a routine test Wednesday. He was experiencing shortness of breath so doctors recommended additional testing to determine the cause.
Based on the test results, Busch underwent bypass surgery at approximately 7 p.m. Doctors can recommend heart bypass surgery when one or more of the blood vessels that transport blood to the heart muscles become partially blocked.
“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,” Hughes said.
The surgery comes just a few months after Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentz died of a cardiac arrest in May as he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Wishes for a speedy recovery came from both sides of the political aisle.
“I’m wishing Speaker Busch the best as he goes through what I know is a tough surgery,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement released by his office.
“Yumi and I send our prayers to Mike and his family as he recovers, and I look forward to continuing our work together soon."
Ben Jealous, Hogan’s Democratic rival, offered a similar statement through his campaign.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Speaker Busch and his family as he recovers,” he said. “I’m glad to hear he’s expected to make a full recovery and look forward to seeing him again soon."
Del. Herb McMillan, the Republican who shares the district with Busch, called the speaker a foe only in a political sense and wished him the best. McMillan announced after the end of the session in April that he would not seek re-election.
“I wish him a speedy recovery and a long life,” he said Thursday.
Busch is on the November ballot with Alice Cain. They face Republicans Bob O’Shea and Chelsea Gill. It was not immediately clear if the new health issue would impact his re-election bid.
“Bob looks forward to getting on the campaign trail and seeing him there and wishes him a speedy recovery,” a campaign spokesman said.
The campaign has been a relatively sleepy one since the June primary, with few signs that there is much competition. The Annapolis area district — which has a Democratic majority — has seen few candidate forums and there aren’t many campaign signs along area roadways.
Busch was the top vote-getter in both the Democratic and Republican primary, with 5,832 votes. O’Shea was the top Republican, with 2,091 votes.
Far more attention has been focused on the District 30 state Senate seat, where Sen. John Astle is retiring. Former delegate Ron George is seeking to return to the General Assembly but has to get past Sarah Elfreth, a former Democratic club leader in her first bid for public office.
Busch, who is married with two adult children, was elected to the House from District 30 in 1987 and succeeded his mentor Cas Taylor as speaker in 2003 after the Western Maryland delegate lost his seat.
As speaker, he is one of the most powerful figures in Maryland government, along with Hogan, a Republican also from Annapolis, and state Senate President Mike Miller, D-Prince George’s. He has long been seen as a fierce advocate of increased spending on public schools.
But he also has been a highly partisan figure who is a frequent target for Republican campaign efforts. Last year, he was interviewed as part of a lawsuit challenging Maryland's 2010 legislative redistricting process of congressional boundaries.
There is no purpose for someone to have a weapon like a 3D-printed gun for self-protection or hunting. This will be one of the first issues that the House of Delegates will take up in the 2019 legislative session.
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In August, he announced Democrats would seek an amendment to the state Constitution to protect abortion rights from an increasingly conservative U.S. Supreme Court and a Congress and the White House held by Republicans.
In response to the fatal shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in June, Busch told The Capital he planned to sponsor legislation that would ban 3D printed guns in Maryland.
Although Busch represents a district and a county that is divided among Republican, Democratic and independent voters, he is the leader of progressive Democratic majorities made up of delegates from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, as well as Baltimore city.
In addition to working as the House speaker, a job that extends beyond the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis, Busch is a deputy director of Anne Arundel County's Department of Recreation and Parks.
Busch plans to retire from his county parks position next month. Hughes said a retirement party set for mid-October remains on the speaker’s calendar.