Gov. Bev Perdue is expected to announce today that she will not seek a second term as governor, two sources close to the Democrat's campaign tell The News & Observer. Perdue is expected to make an announcement this afternoon, a N.C. Democratic Party spokesman said. Her campaign aides began telling top Democrats in the past 24 hours. Perdue campaign spokesman Marc Farinella could not be reached for comment. Her departure sets up a scramble at the top of the Democratic ticket, about 15 weeks before the May primary election. A number of Democrats instantly rise to the short list of potential replacements but all face an uphill battle against likely Republican nominee Pat McCrory, the former longtime Charlotte mayor who matched Perdue's fundraising in this election cycle and sits with $2 million in the bank. Perdue's political fortunes did not look good for her re-election campaign. A recent poll shows McCrory with a 11-point advantage and three of her former campaign associates face criminal prosecution tied to her 2008 bid. One likely candidate for governor is state Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat, who has been making moves for months about running for higher office. He said he will make an announcement next week about his plans. Asked if he will run, Faison said "You should probably expect the announcement will be in that direction." Names that are likely to be bandied about as possible Democratic replacements include Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, and former congressman Bob Etheridge. Dalton appears to be the obvious choice, but Foxx's profile is rising after an easy 2011 reelection win in a traditionally Republican city. And a former aide to Etheridge, who lost his 2010 reelection race, said he should be considered possibility. Attorney General Roy Cooper immediately withdrew his name from considerationThursday, saying he will run for reelection. Also, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) announced that he won't seek reelection, though it's not clear whether he would have any interest. Democrats argued that their odds in the race may improve now that Perdue is not longer running, provided that they get a capable candidate. Republicans said Perdue's exit shows that the state's move toward Democrats in recent years hasn't panned out. "North Carolina's lost ground to its neighbors, and now has the worst unemployment rate in the region," said Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. "It's never been more clear that North Carolina needs a Republican governor who will bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to the governor's office." Perdue was first elected in 2008, the same year President Obama carried North Carolina in one of his most surprising state wins. ----- The Washington Post contributed.