Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) told supporters Tuesday that he will seek re-election in 2014 rather than run for governor, leaving what is already a highly competitive Democratic field to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Franchot, a former Montgomery County delegate who emerged as a contrarian to the Democratic establishment during his six years as comptroller, acknowledged in his letter that his interest in being governor was “no secret.” But he said he had decided to stick with “the best job I have ever had.”

“I have developed an abiding love for a Comptroller’s Office that has been recognized as the best in the nation, and is admired throughout the State of Maryland for its high standards of efficiency and professionalism,” Franchot said.

The outspoken Franchot was certain to be a factor in the race, but he was never considered a front-runner among 2014 hopefuls.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) has been endorsed by O’Malley, and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has established himself as the most prolific fundraiser in the Democratic field.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman(D) is also gearing up to run for the Democratic nomination, as is Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D).

“This is a decision that I have made after a great deal of personal reflection,” Franchot said in his letter.

“I am humbled by the extraordinary support that my prospective campaign received in every corner of our state, and I am now more convinced than ever that there is a shared desire among Marylanders – irrespective of ideology or party affiliation – for an honest conversation of the fiscal and economic challenges that still lie ahead. I look forward to engaging in that conversation from my office in the Goldstein Treasury Building.”