Md. Democratic candidate for governor Kevin Kamenetz dies

Kevin Kamenetz, 60, had been a fixture in Maryland politics since the 1980s. He had been a prosecutor, a member of the Baltimore County Council and Baltimore County Executive. He died just hours after a candidates' forum at Bowie State University. Flags across Maryland will be at half-staff in his honor.

WASHINGTON — Just hours after a candidates’ forum at Bowie State University, Maryland Democratic candidate for governor and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz died Thursday of cardiac arrest at age 60.

Baltimore County Police said Kamenetz was asleep at his home in Owings Mills. He woke up at about 2 a.m. and complained of feeling ill.

Police initially said he was transported by the Garrison Fire Station’s Medic 19 to University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead at 3:22 a.m.

During an 11 a.m. news conference, Elise Armacost, spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Fire Department, clarified the timeline of Kamenetz’s care. Kamenetz did not call 911 from his home. Instead, he and his wife drove 2 miles to the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Co. and called 911 from the parking lot. Volunteers from the fire department met him in the parking lot and took him into the station where his condition quickly deteriorated.

CPR was done and a defibrillator used when he lost his pulse. Armacost said his pulse was restored, an IV was put in and then Kamenetz waited for medics from the Garrisonville Fire Station to arrive and take him to the hospital. Additional CPR was done and the defibrillator had to be used three times, although Kamenetz, who was known for his healthy lifestyle, never regained consciousness.

Kamenetz, who was elected as the county executive in 2010, had been a fixture in Maryland politics. In addition to two terms as county executive, he served as a member of the Baltimore County Council for four terms. He was first elected in 1994.

His first foray into public service started when he became a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office in 1982.

He was among seven Democrats seeking the nomination to oppose Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November. His running mate was Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin.

Kamenetz is survived by his wife Jill and two teenage sons.

Hogan ordered the Maryland state flag to be lowered to half-staff until sunset the day of Kamenetz’s interment, according to Maryland State Police.

Kamenetz’s death shocked Hogan, who tweeted:

“The First Lady and I are shocked and grieved by the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Our prayers go out to his family and many loved ones this morning.”

In a statement, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, who is running for the Democratic nomination, called word of Kamenetz’s passing “shocking and sad.”

“I was with Kevin yesterday evening at a Democrat gubernatorial forum at Bowie State University. This morning, I am stunned by this news as I had just watched hours earlier Kevin passionately and eloquently share his goals, vision, and ideas for the State of 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. As much as Kevin was advocating for what was best for Baltimore County, he was also always looking out for all Marylanders.”

Ben Jealous, former NAACP head and another candidate for the Democratic nomination, tweeted that Kamenetz made a difference in Maryland:

I’m incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

He dedicated his life to public service, to making a difference, and he helped move Maryland forward.

Retired U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., expressed her condolences, calling Kamenetz a “tireless advocate” for Baltimore County.

“Kevin was a dedicated leader working for the good of all of Baltimore County.

I so enjoyed working with him as a senator on everything from jobs to infrastructure – Social Security jobs at Woodlawn, the revitalization of Sparrow’s Point, the Red Line, or career education for our many young people.”

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire, in a statement, thanked Kamenetz for his service:

“We are saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz this morning. We thank him for his service to all of the residents of Baltimore County over the past 24 years as a County Councilman and County Executive.

“We extend our condolences to his wife Jill, sons Dylan and Karson, and all of his friends and family at this tragic time.”

Josh Kurtz, the editor and founder of Marylandmatters.org, tells WTOP there was nothing to indicate Kamenetz had health problems.

Kurtz said Kamenetz led the bipartisan county without raising taxes, which he calls “pretty signficant.”

“He was an extremely smart guy, an extremely accomplished guy,” Kurtz said. “He presided over a great period of economic development.”

Kamenetz’s term was to end in December. On an interim basis, the county’s chief administrative officer will assume his duties, Kurtz said.

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