Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz died early Thursday morning at the age of 60.
The Baltimore County Executive died at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center after cardiac arrest.
According to a release from Baltimore County police, Kamenetz was at home sleeping in Owings Mills, Md., when he woke up around 2 a.m. ET because he was feeling sick. He was taken to the hospital where he then died at 3:22 a.m.
Kamenetz was a fixture in state politics for nearly 25 years.
After beginning his public service career as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, he was elected in 1994 to the Baltimore County Council, where he served four terms. He was a former president of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
He is survived by his wife, Jill Kamenetz, and two teenage sons.
Kamenetz was one of seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Gov. Larry Hogan this fall. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 26. He had chosen Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin as his running mate.
“I can’t even believe this happened,” Ervin told The Baltimore Sun early Thursday.
Kamenetz campaign spokesman Sean Naron echoed that sense of shock.
“We really don’t know how to put it into words,” he told the Sun. “Right now, we’re focused on the fact he was the father to two teenaged sons.”
Condolences from political leaders began rolling in after the news broke Thursday morning.
Hogan tweeted that he and his wife were “shocked and grieved” by Kamenetz’s sudden passing. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh called Kamenetz a “friend and a supporter who always gave good advice” and championed the city.
It’s yet unclear how Kamenetz’s sudden passing will affect the calculus of the primary race and general election. As for Baltimore County, administrative officer Fred Homan will serve as acting county executive until the council votes on a replacement to serve the remainder of his term. The seat is also up for grabs this fall.