Before he died of a heart attack early Thursday morning, Kevin Kamenetz was an impressive and leading candidate in the governor's crowded Democratic main race.
His unexpected death will have dramatic political repercussions as he fights off major candidates seeking to overtake popular Republican Governor Larry Hogan
Kamenetz has regularly been among the top three candidates, earning more money than anyone on the field , This week, he reserved more than $ 1 million in airtime on the market of D.C. and Baltimore, the first and perhaps only candidate with the appropriate resources. He was a dominant political force in the Baltimore area, an area crucial to winning headquarters in less than six weeks.
"He is a husband and father first, and it is undeniable that he was an important political figure and a fixture in the state," said Mileah Kromer, political science professor and pollster at Goucher College.
"His absence will shake the race because he is an important political figure in the state," said Kromer. "He had a serious record for each candidate to go on, which of course is a loss, a loss to the Democratic Party and a loss to the Maryland voters."
Baltimore County police said Kamenetz, 60, woke up with chest pain at 2 pm and died less than 90 minutes later at a Towson hospital. He leaves behind his wife, Jill, and two sons.
Kamenetz spent the evening before he died on a Governor's Forum in Bowie, the second in many days. His unexpected death also stunned his campaign team and
"It is shocking to say that we really do not know how to put it into words," said campaign spokesman Sean Naron. "Right now, we focus on making sure he was the father of two teenage sons."
Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, the frontrunner of the race, said he had canceled 9 am to support nine seats or former To get senators, said his campaign.
"That dramatically changes the race," said Todd Eberly, political scientist at St. Mary's County. "His supporters will look for another option and that could strengthen one or more of the second-tier candidates."
"There is now a solid quarter of the electorate looking for another election, and there is no reason to think that they will adjust to Baker or [Eifersüchtig] [former NAACP chief Ben] they did not even vote for them," said Eberly.
Baker published a statement that said, "Today is a tragic day in Maryland."
"I am struck by this news that I had observed hours before. Kevin shares passionately and eloquently his goals, visions and ideas for the state of Maryland, "said Baker. "As much as Kevin championing the best for Baltimore County, he was always on the lookout for all Marylanders."
On Twitter, rivals around Kamenetz & # 39; family mourned.
Hogan, a frequent political sparring partner and critic of Kamenetz, tweeted his condolences on early Thursday. An hour later he ordered flags to fly half of the staff to honor Kamenetz.
"The First Lady and I are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Kevin Kamenetz of Baltimore County," he wrote. "Our prayers go to his family and many loved ones this morning."
Hogan's campaigners refused to comment on the gaping gulf in the political landscape that left Kamenetz behind.
"I'm just shocked," said Hogan campaign spokesman Doug Mayer said. "This is the last moment political considerations should be considered, and the governor focuses on sending love and thought to the County Executive's family in this time of unbelievable suffering."
Former NAACP chief Ben Jealous, Another top Democrat in the race, Twitter reported that he often sat next to Kamenetz many forums they participated in last year.
"I'll always remember him for the grace and good humor he showed each of his contenders while we wait behind the scenes for the start of the event." Jealous wrote. "He dedicated his life to public service to make a difference, and he helped move Maryland forward."
Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, another Democrat from the Baltimore area, wrote: "I am shocked and saddened by the departure of Kevin Kamenetz and my family expresses our sincere condolences to Jill, his children and the people of Baltimore.
Jim Shea, the third Baltimore candidate in the race, has been working in democratic politics for decades and considers Kamenetz, who has been in office since 1994, a friend.
"Kevin Kamenetz's death is a huge loss to Maryland," Shea said. "He was a dedicated civil servant and I considered him a friend, my heart goes to Jill and his family, along with his many friends and associates."