Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County executive who was running for Maryland governor, has died. He was 60 years old.
Kamenetz died early Thursday morning following a cardiac arrest, according to the Baltimore County Police and Fire Department. Just hours earlier, he participated in a Democratic candidates' forum.
Last September, Kamenetz entered Maryland's crowded Democratic primary for governor. He served as county executive of Maryland's third-largest jurisdiction since December 2010.
Like some of his Democratic opponents, he focused on trying to link Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to President Donald Trump.
In a tweet published just hours before his death, Kamenetz said, "Maryland deserves need leaders who will stand up for what they stand for. That was exactly why I signed an executive order rejecting the Trump administration's unconstitutional behavior & hateful agenda. As governor, I'll continue to defend all of our communities from bigotry."
According to police, Kamenetz was asleep in his home in Owings Mills when he awoke about 2 a.m., complaining of feeling ill. Officials say Kamenetz went to the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, about two miles from his home. He called 911 from the parking lot and was taken to a hospital from there. He died at the hospital just over an hour later.
"When someone who appeared to be in the peak of health yesterday and they're not with you today, it's shocking," Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.
He is survived by his wife, Jill Kamenetz, and their two sons.
As news of his death spread, condolences from Kamenetz's fellow politicians poured in on social media.
Hogan released a statement on Kamenetz's death on Twitter early Thursday morning.
"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," Hogan said.
Hogan also ordered that all flags in the state be lowered in Kamenetz's honor.
Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, who was running against Kamenetz in the Democratic primary, said he would remember his opponent's "grace and good humor."
"He dedicated his life to public service, to making a difference, and he helped move Maryland forward," Jealous wrote.
Kamenetz and Jealous are two of seven candidates on the ballot for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic primary field also includes state Sen. Richard Madaleno, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, entrepreneur Alec Ross, former aide to Michelle Obama Krish Vignarajah and lawyer Jim Shea.
Kamenetz had chosen Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin as his running mate.
Ahead of the June 26 primary, the Maryland Board of Elections said Ervin has the right to either nominate a successor to Kamenetz or nominate herself as the candidate and designate a new running mate, as long as neither has already filed as a candidate. The deadline to make this decision is May 17.
The first absentee ballots will be sent out this Saturday. If Ervin does nominate herself or someone else, the elections board will send out a supplement to the original ballot, explaining the change.
The elections board said they are researching whether funds raised by the Kamenetz campaign can be donated to another candidate.
Another candidates' debate was planned for Thursday night. It was cancelled in Kamenetz's memory.