Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz officially announced his candidacy for Maryland governor on Monday in Towson, joining a crowded Democratic primary race.
Kamenetz, 59, wrote in a Facebook post on Monday that he has the best chance to beat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan “and take back our state from the likes of [President] Donald Trump.”
The lifelong Baltimore County resident has served more than 20 years in elected office — four terms on the Baltimore County Council and two as county executive. He spent 12 years on the Democratic State Central Committee, including two as the Baltimore County chair, and currently is president of the Maryland Association of Counties.
Kamenetz, who is Jewish, told the JT Tuesday, if elected, he would make every decision with the same core Jewish values of fairness and justice as he has since becoming an elected official.
“Growing up in a strong Jewish household has had a tremendous influence on who I am today,” said Kamenetz, a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
Kamenetz joins more than a half dozen other Democrats looking to win the Democratic nomination in the June 26, 2018 primary and unseat the highly popular Hogan in the Nov. 6, 2018 general election.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, entrepreneur and author Alec Ross, lawyer Jim Shea and former policy director for first lady Michelle Obama Krish Vignarajah are also seeking the Democratic nomination.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a policy consultant who is married to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, reportedly has expressed interest in running.
Kamenetz has been vocally critical of Hogan on several issues that have sparked great debate in the Jewish community.
Earlier this year, he blasted Hogan for a vetoing a bill in the General Assembly that would have required companies with at least 15 employees to provide paid sick and safe leave. He also called out Hogan on Twitter for not to bringing Maryland into the United States Climate Alliance, a group that formed in June after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement.
— Kevin Kamenetz (@kevinkamenetz) June 5, 2017
Kamenetz has touted his own policies focused on helping undocumented immigrants and improving the infrastructure in county’s schools.
Kamenetz ripped Hogan for his opposition to a state bill that would have outlined the limits on Maryland police and jail’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities. In response, Kamenetz issued an executive order barring county law enforcement from asking about immigration status or holding detainees past their release dates for immigration reasons unless federal officials present a warrant signed by a judge.
Kamenetz helped launch a $1.3 billion program to build 16 news schools and renovate or expand existing schools in the county. A contentious debate place between Kamenetz, Hogan ensued after the county was criticized for not fixing sooner its schools that lack air conditioning. The county executive previously said it was a problem that he inherited and was working to fix.
Baltimore County, the state’s third-most populated county, could prove to be a swing jurisdiction in the governor’s race. Kamenetz won reelection as county executive in 2014 with 56 percent, while 59 percent of county voters chose Hogan for governor.
This story has been updated with comment from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.