Mr. Jindal, who serves on the association’s executive committee, will chair the group in 2013 under a plan that officials say has broad support from other Republican governors. Mr. Christie, the current vice chairman, will take over in 2014.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the group’s current chairman and yet another GOP governor with possible national ambitions, floated the plan in an email to GOP governors last week, an association official said. Although the governors must formally approve the picks at their annual conference in November, there appears to be a consensus to move ahead, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans have not been publicly announced.
The move gives both up-and-comers prominent leadership roles in the Republican Party and access to a national network of conservative donors, laying the groundwork for possible presidential bids in 2016 if Mitt Romney were to lose in November.
It’s also the clearest sign to date that Mr. Christie, who is up for re-election in 2013, will seek a second term.
Traditionally, the vice chairman one year goes on to serve as chairman the next. To avoid having Mr. Christie serve as chairman the same year he is up for re-election, the order is being changed. Under a proposal first reported Monday by CNN, Mr. Jindal will serve as Mr. Christie’s vice chairman after relinquishing the chairmanship in 2014.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another Republican whose national profile is on the rise, will serve as Mr. Jindal’s vice chairman in 2013.
Mr. Christie mulled running for president in 2012 but opted against it and became one of Mr. Romney’s most prominent supporters. Many in the party questioned whether he was biding his time for 2016, a buzz that grew louder when Mr. Christie was chosen to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August.
Yet despite frequent affirmations that he loves his current job, the popular governor has steadfastly refused to proclaim his intentions to seek another term until after the presidential election in November.
“There’s no need for me to make any kind of decision until afterward,” Mr. Christie said in August. “It’s not something I’ll even consider until after that.”
Taking a turn as the association’s leader has in recent years been a prelude to seeking higher office. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, both served as chairman before pursuing a presidential bid.
The Democratic Governors Association hasn’t announced who will replace Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the group’s 2012 chairman. Governors will elect Mr. O’Malley’s replacement in December.