Kevin Kamenetz Credit: Via Twitter

Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County executive and a Democratic candidate running for governor, died Thursday morning after a cardiac arrest, Baltimore County police said.

Kamenetz, 60, woke up feeling ill at about 2 a.m. in his Owings Mills home and medics took him to University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson. Doctors pronounced him dead there at 3:22 a.m., police said.

Hours earlier on Wednesday evening, Kamenetz had participated in a candidates’ forum at Bowie State University.

Kamenetz was serving his second term as county executive. The Baltimore County Council will vote on a replacement for Kamenetz to serve the rest of his term, The Baltimore Sun reported.

During his campaign for governor, Kamenetz had selected former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin as his running mate. Kamenetz was among the front-runners in several polls.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff in honor of Kamenetz.

“The First Lady and I are saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz this morning,” Hogan said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. He was a dedicated public servant in Baltimore County for more than two decades and we join with the citizens of Baltimore County and all Marylanders in mourning.”

Kamenetz had served as county executive since 2010. Prior to that, he served as a Baltimore County Council member for 16 years. He leaves behind a wife, Jill, and two teenaged-sons.

Several of his Democratic challengers for the gubernatorial nomination issued statements Thursday morning after the news of his sudden passing started to spread.

“Though rivals for the Democratic nomination, we’ve gotten to know each other well over the past year plus, finding a shared sense of wit and humor, as well as a deep love of family and our great state,” state Sen. Rich Madaleno said in a statement. “Kevin’s story of growing up in Lochearn, working at his father’s drug store and ultimately rising to become Baltimore County executive is a classic tale of Maryland grit and determination. His knowledge and dedication to all Marylanders will be sorely missed.”

“I’m incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz,” former NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement. “He dedicated his life to public service, to making a difference and he helped move Maryland forward. My sincerest thoughts and prayers are with Jill and his two sons.”

Alec Ross’s campaign said out of respect for Kamenetz they will suspend campaign events and pause paid communications until the funeral. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, who attended the forum Wednesday night with Kamenetz, said in a statement he was “stunned” by the news and offered his condolences to Kamenetz, his family and the people of Baltimore County.

Kamenetz published a Twitter post at 8:12 p.m. Wednesday night that showed him smiling in pictures with others. It said he was excited to share how he and Ervin planned to bring results back to Maryland.