Mark Busch walking back pre-Capitol insurrection comments
Screen shot from video.

Mark Busch A
First he talked about pitchforks and torches, then he condemned violence.

Casselberry Vice Mayor Mark Busch, a Republican running for Congress against Rep. Stephanie Murphy, is dismissing comments he made the day before last Wednesday’s pro-Donald Trump rally that turned into a riotous insurrection of the U.S. Capitol.

Busch appeared to walk back the comments with a written statement released Tuesday, condemning violence of any kind. His written statement said that what “happened at the capital (sic) was a tragedy for our country and a blot on our standing as leader of the free world.”

Yet Busch appeared to be in a different mood a week earlier, when he attended a pro-Trump, sign-waving rally in Casselberry, and joined a video discussion of the upcoming rally in D.C.

In a video posted on the conservative social media site, Busch is seen expressing confidence that Vice President Mike Pence would reject the 2020 presidential election results that declare Democrat Joe Biden the winner. On the day before, Busch said people were going to Washington “foaming at the mouth mad,” and that, “if they [Pence and Congress] don’t do what they should be doing, watch out, all bets are off.”

When the video, “Our Commissioner is a Patriot,” began to circulate outside of the conservative blogosphere Monday, responses came in.

“Casselberry residents deserve honest, nonpartisan representation from our Commissioners. We will not stand for violent rhetoric to be given by our elected officials. Vice Mayor Busch does not deserve to be the face of leadership for our beautiful, diverse city,” Casselberry resident Emily Orey said to the City Commission Monday night.

Grayson Lanza, co-chair of the the Orlando Democratic Socialists of America, issued a statement condemning supportive rhetoric.

“The attack on the Capitol this past Wednesday was a direct result of the inflammatory and violent language used by elected GOP officials like Vice Mayor Mark Busch. … Actions have consequences, and Mark Busch has shown that in his actions he is not fit to serve as an elected official for the Casselberry community.”

Busch, elected to the Casselberry City Commission in 2018, filed late last year to run in Florida’s 7th Congressional District against Murphy, the three-term Democrat from Winter Park.

CD 7 covers all of Seminole County and parts of northern, eastern, and central Orange County. It is the second time Busch has tried to run for that congressional seat. In 2016 he lost the Republican primary to then-incumbent Rep. John Mica. Murphy then beat Mica that fall. Busch maintains he would have presented, and will eventually present, a stronger challenge.

Busch calls himself a dedicated constitutional conservative. He is a proud MAGA supporter. He is an outspoken skeptic of the scientific validity of the risks and spread of COVID-19, and of mask use. He is an angry critic of any economic lockdowns. He is a firm believer that election fraud led to Biden’s victory. He is a committed follower of niche right-wing media, who, in an interview with Florida Politics, dismissed even Fox News, along with NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN, as not believable anymore.

On Jan. 5 he showed up at a small rally of hard-right Trump supporters, while an activist who posts under the handle PaintTheTrump was taping commentary. Busch joined in and began talking about how confident he was that Pence would reject the Electoral College votes.

The video also shows Busch suggesting people should leave the Republican Party and form a new party if the GOP does not do what he and the other pro-Trump demonstrators expect.

Carrying a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and wearing a shirt that reads, “Freedom is my 2nd Favorite F Word,” and a red hat that reads, “Fake News,” Busch said “the greater need is to preserve our constitutional republic.”

Busch predicted that Trump was “going to have 1-2 million people sitting outside the Capitol. They better do the right thing. And these people, they’re foaming at the mouth mad right now. They’ve got the pitchforks and the torches and if they don’t do what they should be doing watch out, all bets are off.

“And you know what? Maybe we have to go through that, because they’re just not listening to us now. … Go through stormy times and then fix it in the end. I think at this point in time we don’t care anymore,” Busch added.

As for the Republican Party, in the video, Busch suggested, “either we’re going to take over the Republican Party or we’re going to start our own party. That’s what we’re going to do. … There’s two things we can do, create our own party, or change the party from within. [Ronald] Reagan said, ‘Look, if you don’t like what’s going on in the party, change it from within.’ Either we do that or we start our own party. It’s one way or the other.”

The statement he issued Tuesday, which he said was similar to comments he made at Monday night’s Casselberry City Council meeting, read:

“I condemn violence of any kind. What happened at the capital was a tragedy for our country and a blot on our standing as leader of the free world. Anyone who committed a crime should be brought to justice.

“The election was the most contested one in my lifetime and emotions were high across the political spectrum. I am a constitutional conservative and will continue to fight for freedom of speech, voter reform and the rule of law.

“I plead to all fair-minded people to work together diligently to heal the discord in our communities and our nation.”


Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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