- Associated Press - Monday, September 18, 2017

TOWSON, Md. (AP) - Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz entered Maryland’s crowded Democratic primary for governor on Monday.

Like some of his Democratic opponents, he focused on trying to link Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to President Donald Trump. He avoided mentioning the half dozen people he will have to beat to challenge the incumbent next year. Kamenetz, who has been county executive of Maryland’s third largest jurisdiction since December 2010, criticized Hogan for not speaking out against the Republican president and his Cabinet members.

“We can’t afford to have a governor who refuses to stand up to Donald Trump to protect our values, our communities and our state,” Kamenetz said, with his family and supporters by his side in front of the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse. “We can’t afford to have a governor who needs to take a poll before taking a stand, a governor who hedges his bets, a governor who plays both sides of the fence, a governor who can’t articulate a long term vision for this state.”

Criticism of the Republican president already has become a main point of attack for Democratic candidates against Hogan in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Trump lost Maryland in November, mustering only 34 percent of the vote. Hogan has distanced himself from Trump, and he refused to vote for him. Still, Democrats have been pressing the governor to be more outspoken against the president’s policies in hopes of convincing voters that the governor’s unwillingness to confront the president more openly and more often is a sign of approval. Hogan counters by saying he’s focused on governing the state, not Washington politics.

The Maryland Republican Party was quick to criticize Kamenetz’s shortly after his announcement, noting he will be in line to receive a large pension when he leaves county service.

Kevin Kamenetz needs to explain whether or not he is going to partake in the double-dipping pension scheme he voted to create that stands to reward him not one, but two taxpayer-funded pensions totaling well over six figures annually on top of a nearly $400,000 golden parachute payout,” GOP party chairman Dirk Haire said in a statement.

Kamenetz served for 16 years on the county council before becoming county executive and would be eligible for a pension from each job.

Kamenetz highlighted his experience as the county’s chief executive to make the case for his candidacy. He touted work on creating jobs, improving schools and protecting the environment, without raising taxes. He emphasized his commitment to equality, noting the renaming of a park once named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee. He also noted his support for initiatives to prohibit discrimination against immigrants and transgender residents.

“As your governor, I will ensure that hate will never be a Maryland value,” Kamenetz said.

The Democratic primary field already includes Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, state Sen. Richard Madaleno and former NAACP president Ben Jealous. Former Michelle Obama aide Krish Vignarajah, entrepreneur Alec Ross and lawyer Jim Shea also are running.

The primary is June 26.


Information from: The Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com

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