A third possible Democratic candidate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, isn't covered by the fundraising ban because he doesn't hold a statewide or legislative office.

Similarly, none of the expected Republican candidates for governor, including Harford County Executive David R. Craig and Frederick County Commission President Blaine Young, is covered by the ban on raising money during the session.

Young , who held a fundraiser Wednesday night at a Washington restaurant, said he's waiting to see if former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele or 2012 U.S. Senate nominee Dan Bongino get into the race.

"The last thing we need to do in a primary is eat our own, when the real challenge is to take on the big Democrats," Young said. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by more than two to one.

Being able to raise money during the session isn't expected to give Republican gubernatorial contenders any advantage over the Democrats who can't.

Both parties are expected to see hotly contested primaries for governor before the general election. So all of the candidates can be expected to empty their campaign coffers in the primary — leaving the winners to rush to refill them between June and November.

It's difficult to predict what it will cost to run for governor of Maryland in 2014. The 2006 contest between O'Malley and then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. cost a record $35 million. Their 2010 rematch came in at a comparatively paltry $17 million.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

ecox@baltsun.com

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