May 10 (UPI) — A leading Democratic candidate hoping to become the next governor of Maryland died of a heart attack Thursday.
Kevin Kamenetz died overnight at his home in Owings Mills, Md., authorities said. He awoke at about 2 a.m. complaining of illness and died about an hour later. He was 60.
Kamenetz, a Baltimore County city executive, had been one of the leading candidates in a crowded Democratic field to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan in November.
“He was a dedicated public servant in Baltimore County for more than two decades, and we join with the citizens of Baltimore County and all Marylanders in mourning,” Hogan said in a tweet.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Kamenetz was an “ardent supporter” of Baltimore and someone she “admired.”
“Our hearts go out to his wife Jill and their two sons, and the many who cherished his friendship, easy smile and determined spirit,” Pugh tweeted.
Kamenetz had raised more money than anyone else in the field and was expected to have a shot at replacing Hogan in Annapolis.
“His absence will shake up the race because he was an important political figure in the state,” pollster Mileah Kromer told The Baltimore Sun.
“He had a serious record for any candidate to run on. That, of course, is a loss. That is a loss to the Democratic party and a loss to the voters of Maryland.”
“It’s shocking to say at the very least,” campaign spokesman Sean Naron told the Sun. “We really don’t know how to put it into words.”
Kamenetz’s running mate, Valerie Ervin, will decide whether to run in his place or choose another candidate. She has until May 17 to make that decision. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 26.
Kamenetz is survived by his wife and two sons. His funeral is scheduled for Friday at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.