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While Democrats have a deep bench from which to pick a possible successor, the same cannot be said for Republicans. Maryland has had just one Republican governor since 1969 — Robert L. Ehrlich Jr, , who served from 2003 to 2007 and fought bitterly with many Democrats throughout his tenure.

Mr. Ehrlich’s 2002 victory may have been owned in part to a Democratic candidate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who had never won elected office prior to two terms as lieutenant governor and was seen by many as a lackluster candidate.

After losing the past two elections, Mr. Ehrlich has said he all but surely will not run again.

Potential Republican candidates in 2014 include Brian Murphy — a young Montgomery County businessman who received 25 percent of the vote in a 2010 governor’s primary loss to Mr. Ehrlich — and Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., who served as secretary of appointments under Mr. Ehrlich.

Other candidates could include 2010 Ehrlich running mate Mary Kane or Charles County Republican Charles Lollar.

Mr. Eberly said Republicans have a lot of work to do toward cultivating a viable candidate, and that such a candidate might have to actively court moderate voters.

Said Mr. Sheckels: “Things happen so quickly in politics that it wouldn’t surprise me if one emerges. There’s always a way back. Voters are fickle and will eventually want to see what’s on the other side.”