Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Maryland’s only Republican governor in a generation, offered kind words Friday night for Larry Hogan, who is hoping to be the next one.

Appearing at an office-opening party and fundraiser for Hogan in Annapolis, Ehrlich said the GOP gubernatorial hopeful had served him well as appointments secretary during his four-year tenure as governor. The job involved filling hundreds of administration posts and required a special touch with lawmakers from both parties, Ehrlich said.

“I’m really proud of this guy,” Ehrlich told the crowd. “He did an absolutely incredible job. . . . I’m very proud to be here with my friend.”

The appearance did not amount an endorsement, however, an Ehrlich aide said. The former governor was there in part to sign copies of a new book he’s written, “America: Hope for Change,” and did not rule out a similar event with another GOP contender.

Hogan, an Anne Arundel County real-estate broker and leader of the group Change Maryland, faces several other candidates in the June Republican primary: Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel) and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.

Hogan’s running mate, Boyd Rutherford, is also a former Ehrlich Cabinet secretary. He led the Department of General Services, which manages state property and provides services to other government agencies.

Ehrlich, whose tenure as governor ended with his defeat by now-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2006, said this year’s election will be challenging for his party. “Everybody knows it’s a tough race,” he said.

And Ehrlich acknowledged “money’s tight” for the GOP hopefuls in a state where Democrats hold more than a 2 to 1 advantage in party registration.

Hogan, who announced his candidacy just last month, offered an upbeat assessment of the race, citing recent polls that gave him an edge over the other GOP contenders, who have been running since summer.