WASHINGTON — The campaign signs are purple, the campaign song is Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and the candidate is Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Kamenetz announced he’s entering the Democratic race against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican in a blue state who has an approval rating of 68 percent.
At a Monday morning campaign announcement in Towson, Kamenetz, 59, told the crowd that he’s a “tell-it-like-it-is guy” and cut to the chase by announcing his candidacy immediately after stepping up to the microphone.
A candidate entering an already-crowded field, Kamenetz declared, “I am the best Democrat in this race to take on Larry Hogan and take back our state from the likes of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions.” Like other Maryland Democrats, Kamenetz attempted to link Hogan to the polarizing president: “I want to be your next governor because Donald Trump and Larry Hogan — they’re taking our country and our state in the wrong direction.”
Like Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, with whom Kamenetz teamed up during the last Maryland General Assembly session on a number of issues, Kamenetz has been a vocal critic of Hogan. He touted his own record on upgrading schools, adding air conditioning to old, out-of-date buildings. Kamenetz portrayed himself as a hardworking public servant who generates results.
His announcement came as the Baltimore Sun reported the county’s IT director, Rob Stradling, urged his staff via email on Friday to come out and support Kamenetz at Monday’s announcement. According to the Sun, Stradling told email recipients “I am encouraging full participation to support our County Executive” at the event.
Seven Democrats who’ve entered the Democratic primary to take on Hogan. The other candidates include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, former Venable LLP attorney Jim Shea, State Sen. Rich Madaleno, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Krish Vignarajah, who served as an adviser to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Hogan was out of state on Monday, attending the Republican Governors Association meeting. There are 34 Republican governors serving across the United States; several, like Hogan, remain popular despite serving in states where Democrats outnumber Republicans.