The shocking death of Baltimore County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz left a crowded Democratic field wide open.
Kamenetz, who stood as one of the top three front-runners in the Democratic race, suffered a heart attack Thursday, May 10 after participating in a forum at Bowie State University hours earlier. He was 60.
Although Kamenetz sharply criticized Gov. Larry Hogan on statewide policies, Hogan ordered flags flown at half-staff.
Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator at Maryland Board of Elections, said the campaign has until Thursday, May 17 to make a decision on who will replace Kamenetz.
State law allows his running mate Valerie Ervin to either drop out of the race, become the gubernatorial candidate, or remain as a lieutenant governor hopeful and choose a person as a substitute for Kamenetz.
His campaign reported earlier this year it had raised slightly more than $2 million, the most among his Democratic challengers in the June 26 primary.
Dozens of Democratic and Republican officials at the federal, state and local level, including former Rep. Donna Edwards, a longtime friend of Ervin, attended Kamenetz’ funeral Friday, May 11 at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
“Our dads joined the Air Force together before we were born and before they were married to our mothers,” Edwards said of Ervin after a candidates’ forum Saturday, May 12. “Valerie and I are not political allies. We are friends. It would be great for someone to be in the governor’s office who understands education.”
As for the Kamenetz campaign, it pushed several proposals including an education plan to return control of school calendars to local school systems, an increase of the state’s annual allocation for school construction projects, and the appointment of a similar Thornton Commission to analyze and eliminate inequities against the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities.
Kamenetz led a county of 838,000, a population larger than at least four other states, ranks as the third-largest jurisdiction in the state behind Montgomery and Prince George’s.
In an interview in January, Kamenetz proclaimed the county as “a statewide leader” that requires all 1,400 police officers to wear body cameras. He also pushed for a $1.3 billion plan to renovate or build 90 schools in the county.