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Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) scored another endorsement in his campaign for Maryland governor earlier this month, this time from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D).

Brown understands that Baltimore city is a strong economic engine for the state and stands up for the hard-working families in the city, Rawlings-Blake said in a statement July 1.

Brown, who has tapped Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) as his running mate, said in a statement that he would continue working to create jobs in the city and build a stronger Baltimore.

Brown has already picked up endorsements from U.S. Reps. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md., 4th) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md., 7th) and Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). His campaign announced late last month that 70 elected municipal leaders have given his ticket their support.

The Democratic primary is still nearly a year away, and the campaigns of Brown’s rivals barely have started.

But scoring early endorsements can go a long way toward pushing Brown to the front of the pack, said Laura Hussey, professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

“An important part of one’s success as a nominee is getting the mentions and being perceived as a credible candidate,” Hussey said.

Brown is clearly the front-runner, and the more endorsements pile on, the more they deter potential rivals, she said.

Not that Hussey doesn’t expect Brown to face challenges.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has raised at least $5.2 million for a gubernatorial bid, and U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md., 2nd) and Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) are considered contenders.

Ruppersberger is already established in the state, and will be a popular candidate if he throws his hat into the ring, Hussey said. But that name recognition could actually work against him because he won’t have the extra charm or mystique that lesser-known candidates sometimes have when introducing themselves to voters, Hussey said.

That might not be a problem for Mizeur, who has risen to prominence with her advocacy for same-sex marriage and is developing a strong following and ideological brand, Hussey said.

But Mizeur, who is serving her second term in the House, might not have quite enough exposure, and is more likely to be a major player in Maryland politics down the road, Hussey said.

“I don’t think she’s ready,” Hussey said.

Gansler has used his office to get his name out across the state, but Hussey said she wondered if he still might not be well-known enough outside of his home turf of Montgomery County.