Finance Secretary Ernesto Cordero acknowledged he hopes to be the ruling conservative PAN party's standard-bearer in next year's Mexican presidential election.

He said at a press conference that he has "aspirations" for the top post but noted he "must comply with the legally established timeframes" and with his current "enormous responsibilities."

A group of PAN party leaders, including four state governors, announced Thursday their support for Cordero in the contest for the party's 2012 nomination.

The secretary, who described himself as "a proud Mexican" who is committed to his country, said he appreciated the backing from a group of "distinguished" PAN members who recognized his track record in an open letter.

"It's a great honor to be considered as a possible standard-bearer for my party to continue what have already been 10 years of achievement and progress," Cordero said.

The election season begins in October when the different parties start the process of selecting their candidates, a process that must be concluded in December.

Candidates are constitutionally required to resign from senior public posts six months before the July 1, 2012, ballot, although they may be asked to do so in October by their respective parties to guarantee fair conditions for all in the run-up to the election.

Candidates must officially register by January 2012 and electoral campaigns kick off in April.

The public support for Cordero, who analysts say has the backing of incumbent President Felipe Calderon, comes after other PAN politicians had already expressed interest in competing for the top office.

That list includes the secretaries of Education, Alonso Lujambio, and Labor, Javier Lozano, as well as the PAN leader in the lower house of Congress, Josefina Vazquez Mota, and Sen. Santiago Creel.

Mexico state Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto and Sen. Mario Fabio Beltrones are considered frontrunners to be the nominee of the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - who narrowly lost to Calderon in 2006 - and Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard - are potential candidates of the left-wing PRD party.

The PRI controlled the presidency from 1929 to 2000, when the PAN's Vicente Fox was elected on a platform promising reform.

Mexico's constitution limits the president to a single six-year term.