Updated – 9:30 a.m., Friday – In the wake of Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz’s sudden death Thursday, his running mate—former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin—is facing a significant decision.
Under Maryland election law, Ervin has until May 17—40 days before the June 26 primary—to decide whether she wants to replace Kamenetz as the gubernatorial candidate or designate someone to run in his place. The campaign and Ervin could also decide to discontinue the campaign altogether..
The 60-year-old Kamenetz, who was the Baltimore County executive, was a leading contender in a top field of seven for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s governor race before he died early Thursday morning from cardiac arrest, according to Baltimore County first responders and a University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center doctor who treated Kamenetz.
Kamenetz selected Ervin as his running mate in late February. She was the executive director of the New York-based Center for Working Families before joining Kamenetz’s campaign.
Ervin served one and three quarters terms as a council member for Silver Spring-based District 5 before she resigned in 2013 to take the position with the Center for Working Families.
Ervin issued a statement Thursday morning saying she was “shocked and heartbroken by this sudden and unexpected loss.”
“I want to thank those across Maryland for their outpouring of support, sympathy and gratitude during this difficult time,” Ervin said.
Kamenetz’s campaign has not stated what its plans are. Kamenetz’s funeral is scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Friday at the Batlimore Hebrew Congregation, 7410 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore.
In January, Kamenetz reported to the state’s Board of Elections that his campaign had about $2 million in cash on hand—the most of any Democratic hopeful at the time. Jared DeMarinis, the director of the board’s campaign finance division, said Kamenetz’s campaign fund will now become “surplus funds” and could not be given directly to another candidate. He said the funds could be donated to charity, a state central committee or a local central committee.
Ervin could, however, use the funds that she and Kamenetz raised through a slate committee, according to DeMarinis.
Other candidates in the field include state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington), Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former Michelle Obama adviser Krishanti Vignarajah, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Baltimore attorney James Shea.