South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford tearfully admitted on Wednesday he had been unfaithful to his wife, likely ending any chance he might be a Republican contender for the U.S. presidency in 2012.
Following is a list of Republicans seen as potential candidates for their party's nomination in 2012. No candidate has announced he or she will run for the presidency but politicians often start gearing up for a bid years in advance.
Haley Barbour - The governor of Mississippi is seen as a party power broker. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee and on Wednesday was named to replace Sanford as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Mitt Romney - The former governor of Massachusetts came in second to eventual 2008 Republican nominee Senator John McCain. Romney is a successful businessman who also ran the 2002 Winter Olympics. He is a major party fund-raiser.
Sarah Palin - The governor of Alaska caused a sensation as McCain's running mate in 2008 and helped ignite the party's base. She also drew fire for what critics said was a lack of knowledge of policy issues.
Tim Pawlenty - The governor of Minnesota announced this month he would not stand for another term. The decision was seen by some as giving Pawlenty more latitude to pursue a presidential bid.
Bobby Jindal - One of the nation's youngest governors, Louisiana's 38-year-old chief executive is seen as a rising star in the party and is a favorite of conservatives. A high-profile, televised speech Jindal gave in February was criticized as lackluster.
Mark Sanford - The South Carolina governor boosted his credentials as a fiscal conservative this year by opposing a federal stimulus package and refusing part of the money allocated for his state. Wednesday's announcement has all but ended his chances, analysts said.
Newt Gingrich - The prominent former speaker of the U.S. House of Representives, who is from Georgia, is widely admired by conservatives for his role in helping to end 40 years of Democratic majorities in the House in 1994.
Mike Huckabee - The former governor of Arkansas excited the party's evangelical base during his run for the Republican nomination in 2008. He now has his own cable TV show.
John Thune - The Republican senator from South Dakota ranks high with many conservatives.
John Ensign - The senator from Nevada resigned from his Senate leadership post last week after admitting to an extramarital affair. That has damaged his chances for a 2012 bid, analysts said.
(Writing by Matthew Bigg in Atlanta; Editing by Eric Walsh)