Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D), who is crisscrossing the state in his role as president of the Maryland Association of Counties, says it will likely be after Labor Day before he decides whether to run for governor in 2018.
“Right now, we’re all focused on keeping our kids busy,” Kamenetz, who has two teenagers at home, said Monday after meeting with members of the Montgomery County Council in Rockville.
But with the Democratic gubernatorial primary just over a year away (June 26, 2018), it’s clear that Kamenetz, 52, who is barred from seeking a third term as executive, is plenty focused on politics.
He organized to finish a surprising second to a prospective rival, Rep. John Delaney, in a late April gubernatorial straw poll of Democrats in western Maryland, where he is not well known.
And in the interview Monday, he called incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan “a caretaker” who has not articulated a long-term vision for the state and said he believes Democrats can retake the governor’s mansion next year.
“This is still a Democratic state,” Kamenetz said, citing the large majorities that have voted for former senator Barbara Mikulski, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. “Governor Hogan’s election in 2014 was more about the Democrats’ failure to turn out as opposed to the Republic brand somehow growing.”
In an email, Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the governor’s office “doesn’t pay much attention to partisan rhetoric and politics. The governor is focused on getting things done for Maryland, like creating 100,000 jobs over the past two years and building roads and bridges across the state.”
In addition to Delaney, other likely or declared Democratic candidates include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former attorney general Doug Gansler, former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery), tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and lawyer James L. Shea.
Since mid-April, Kamenetz has met with elected officials in Baltimore City and Calvert, Frederick and St. Mary’s counties as part of his work for the Maryland Association of Counties, a nonpartisan group that advocates in Annapolis for legislation sought by local governments.
He stopped in Howard on Monday before going to Rockville. Tuesday, he is scheduled for Queen Anne’s County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Association Executive Director Michael Sanderson appears with Kamenetz at the briefings, which tend to be policy-heavy, with a focus on opioid fatalities and cuts in education spending or highway-user-fund revenues.
The association was supposed to provide lunch for the Montgomery council members after the session, but the discussion came to a halt before the food arrived.
“You get an A for this and an F for catering,” joked council member Sidney Katz (D-Rockville-Gaithersburg).