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“I have not made a final decision,” Mr. Duncan told The Times late Monday. “I am calling members for advice and consideration.”

Mr. Duncan is credited with having raised prodigious sums of money for the Republican candidates, including John McCain and Sarah Palin in the just-concluded 2007-08 election cycle.

One of the most active state party chairmen is frank about his chairmanship aspirations.

“I am phoning members,” Saul Anuzis told The Times. “I am not aware of any calls Steele has made. I understand he was going to use his GOPAC conference [this week in Florida] to kick off his exploratory.”

Mr. Gingrich, who heads two organizations, isn’t campaigning for the RNC job personally.

“I am not a candidate for RNC - I am focused on American Solutions and the Center for Health Transformation,” Mr. Gingrich said in an e-mail exchange with The Times on Monday. “I think that is where I will make the biggest contribution to creating a new generation of solutions and actually getting them implemented.”

Mr. Gingrich is remembered as the former history teacher from Georgia who led the “Republican Revolution,” first as a backbencher in the House during the Reagan era and eventually the electoral earthquake in 1994 that brought the Republican Party into the majority in the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years.

Mr. Steele’s conservative GOPAC was founded by former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont as a national candidate recruitment and training organization for state and local offices.

Those like Shawn Steel who want to see Mr. Steele as the face of the party say he has the “it” required for national stardom - that he is tall, articulate and charismatic. Mr. Steele headed the Maryland Republican Party (and was the only black state party chairman) before being elected lieutenant governor and then losing his U.S. Senate race two years ago.

“I believe that the RNC ought to recruit a superstar,” Mr. Steel said in a dear colleague letter to other RNC members. “That superstar should have the following qualities:

- instant media recognition and credibility;

- knowledge of where and how to raise money;

- the ability to convince members of Congress to take visionary pro-growth and pro-family stands, that when some members act like Democrats they do a great disservice to the party’s brand.”

On the Democratic side, Mr. Obama is expected to choose a successor to Mr. Dean, the one-time presidential candidate and former governor of Vermont. Mr. Dean’s tactics initially had generated some tension in the party between party chairmen and Washington insiders, including Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who is considered the strategic architect of Democrats’ congressional victories.