By MARC LEVY

The first playoff for the four Republicans who hope to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's re-election bid next year will be the state party's endorsement.

Should the party be unable or unwilling to endorse, it would be the first time in 40 years. That goes back to 1978's five-way gubernatorial primary contest won by Dick Thornburgh. The looming four-way contest puts state party committee members in the sticky position of choosing between York County state Sen. Scott Wagner and three from suburban Pittsburgh: state House Speaker Mike Turzai, lawyer Laura Ellsworth and ex-health care systems consultant Paul Mango.

All four tell party officials that they'll run with or without the party's endorsement.

Alan Novak, a former Republican Party chairman, says it's a squeamish situation for committee members.