Following Betty Ireland's formal entrance into the upcoming GOP Primary for Governor, one might have thought that other interested Republicans might have dropped out.  Or at least some may have taken their time and deliberated whether or not they wanted to take on the former Secretary of State.

But the opposite happened.  For starters, Clark Barnes, the two term Republican State Senator from Elkins, didn't flinch. Like Ireland, he's exhibited interest in running since late last year.

But most tellingly were the no less than three Republican House members who also let their potential interest in the race be known. Republican Delegates Mitch Carmichael, Tim Armstead, and Troy Andes were mentioned in published reports following Ireland's announcement, each having said they might run.

So much for Ireland's frontrunner status, which had a half-life of a uranium molecule.  Apparently, the gents in the House of Delegates didn't get the memo.  Nor did Ireland's hometown Republican newspaper, the Charleston Daily Mail, who gave Ireland's much-ballyhooed announcement exactly two sentences in a broader story about the Governor's race.

Someone call a medic for the Ireland campaign, which looks unable to garner much respect from core constituencies.  If the Republican legislators and the top Republican newspaper in the state are ignoring her candidacy, it may be time for Ireland to pack it in.

Meanwhile, efforts by the "Draft John Raese for Governor" continue apace, with organizers noting a significant uptick in support, coming from phone calls, e-mails, and a concerted Facebook effort among Raese enthusiasts.

Raese hasn't spoken about his intent lately, but he is speaking at the Reagan Salute Dinner this week in Parkersburg, hosted by the Wood County GOP.  Those attending will hear Raese speak on the continued relevance of President Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday is being celebrated this year.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, political observers are trying to get a fix on just who is the likely winner of the Democratic contest, which gets more complicated by the day.

While State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin would seem to have the upper hand, his power grab for not only the Governor's office but also the Governor's Mansion is making him look self-serving.

So who is the most likely among the other candidates to take Tomblin out, whether in a primary election or a convention?

Take your pick.  Treasurer John Perdue likely has the best statewide network of friends after several terms in statewide office.  But Secretary of State Natalie Tennant could play well to women voters and those who remember her in the Kanawha Valley as a TV personality for several years.

Many believe that a Democratic Party convention would play to House Speaker Rick Thompson's Labor bonafides, while Charleston's liberal bluebloods would back State Senator Brooks McCabe, who may have the largest checking account of the Democratic contenders.

Acting Senate President Jeff Kessler of Marshall County is rumored to be interested in running for Governor as well, but he is also said to be considering a run for Congress in 2012.  He may just be tossing his name around in the Governor's race to generate interest in that race instead.

More candidates in both major parties may yet come out of the woodwork, for this 15 month term for Governor.  If there wasn't so much at stake, this process could rightly be said to have a carnival-like tone.

The surprise entrance of Charleston Mayor Danny Jones into this wild mix would make that kind of atmosphere complete.