The news that Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz had died early Thursday from cardiac arrest prompted an outpouring from political rivals, supporters and residents of the county.
“The First Lady and I are shocked and grieved by the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz,” said Gov. Larry Hogan on Twitter. “Our prayers go out to his family and many loved ones this morning.”
Kamenetz was one of seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to oppose Hogan this fall. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 26. Kamenetz had chosen Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin as his running mate.
Sean Naron, Kamenetz’s campaign spokesman, said Kamenetz had been at a candidate forum Wednesday night where he did “a great job” and was in good spirits.
“This morning everyone is just shocked,” said Elise Armacost, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman who said she had known Kamenetz for nearly 25 years. “It is a sudden, unexpected death,” she said.
Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, described Kamenetz as one of the top three Democratic contenders in the race, along with Rushern Baker and Ben Jealous.
Jealous released an early morning statement.
“I’m incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz,” Jealous said. “He dedicated his life to public service, to making a difference, and he helped move Maryland forward. My sincerest thoughts and prayers are with Jill and their two sons.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh tweeted that Kamenetz was an “ardent supporter” of the city.
“I considered him a friend and colleague, and admired him for his commitment to pursuing the best interests of Baltimore County residents, even while advocating for all Marylanders in his pursuit to be governor,” she wrote. “Our hearts go out to his wife Jill and their two sons, and the many who cherished his friendship, easy smile and determined spirit.”
Baker, the Prince George’s County executive, said Thursday was a “tragic day in Maryland.”
“Over the past seven years, we worked together on critical pieces of legislation and shared goals for improving the education of Maryland children, achieving quality health care for all the state’s residents, and creating jobs and opportunity for our constituents,” Baker said in a statement. “As much as Kevin was advocating for what was best for Baltimore County, he was also always looking out for all Marylanders.
Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, who is also running for governor, said Kamenetz’s “story of growing up in Lochearn, working at his father’s drug store and ultimately rising to become Baltimore County executive is a classic tale of Maryland grit and determination.”
After beginning his public service career as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, Kamenetz was elected in 1994 to the Baltimore County Council, where he served four terms. He was a former president of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
He was first elected county executive in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
A native of Baltimore County, he attended Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law.