Baltimore County’s top elected officeholder ended months of speculation today, officially announcing a run for the governor’s office.
Kevin Kamenetz, currently serving his second term as Baltimore County executive, tweeted on Monday morning, “I don’t like to beat around the bush: today, I am announcing my candidacy to be Maryland’s next Governor.” A more official “special announcement” is set for 11:15 a.m. at the Baltimore County courthouse in Towson.
Ironically, Kamenetz beat around the bush on this matter for the last half-year or so. His name was among several fielded early on as potential challengers to Gov. Larry Hogan. Others included Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, ex-NAACP executive director Ben Jealous, Montgomery County state Sen. Richard Madaleno and Baltimore City Del. Maggie McIntosh. Baker, Jealous and Madaleno each declared in the spring and early summer, while Kamenetz held out almost until the start of the fall.
Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, local attorney Jim Shea and Krish Vignarajah, former policy director for Michelle Obama, have all entered the Democratic primary race as well. Maya Rockeymoore, a policy consultant married to Rep. Elijah Cummings, is also considering a run.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Kamenetz asserted he’s “the best Democrat in this race to beat Larry Hogan next year, and take back our state from the likes of Donald Trump, [House Speaker] Paul Ryan, and [U.S. Attorney General] Jeff Sessions.”
“We need a governor who’s not afraid to tell it like it is and always fights for what’s right. A governor who sweats the details and does the hard work to actually get things done. A governor with the right experience and a track record of results that no one can match.”
Kamenetz has prioritized protecting undocumented residents since the November 2016 presidential election, signing an executive order barring county law enforcement from issuing detainers or targeting people based on immigration status. He also directed county police not to help identify and deport undocumented college students.
Kamenetz also has a bone to pick with incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The two have butted heads over the last year on issues like midge spraying in Baltimore County, installation of air conditioning units in Baltimore County schools and the paid sick leave bill for small businesses that Hogan vetoed this spring.
Hogan notably took 59 percent of the vote in Kamenetz’s home turf of Baltimore County during his upset win in the 2014 governor’s race, according to state voting records.
Kamenetz had more than $1.6 million in cash to put toward his campaign as of January, according to state campaign finance records. We’ll learn how much money he’s raised this year in early 2018, when he files a new report.
Unless Gansler decides to gun for Annapolis or U.S. Rep. John Delaney backs out of his bid for president in 2020, Kamenetz should be the final current or former Maryland officeholder to enter next year’s Democratic primary race for governor. Voters will cast their ballots on June 26, 2018.