Steele is less of a sure thing, but indications are that he will make a final decision on whether to seek a new term near Thanksgiving. Other candidates frequently mentioned as possible top-tier contenders include former RNC chair Mike Duncan, former RNC co-chair Ann Wagner, Connecticut Republican Party head Chris Healy, Wisconsin GOP chief Reince Priebus and former South Carolina chairman Katon Dawson.
Dawson and a group of prominent Republicans are said to be cajoling another possible contender into the race, though that seems less likely to occur.
Norquist said he isn't certain whether Steele will run for a second term, that the prospects are "50-50" at the moment. But a public debate on Steele's oft-criticized tenure is part of the goal of a national forum.
"I think there have been some obvious challenges," Norquist said of Steele's tenure. "The party's been very successful even if somebody wanted to argue that decisions on spending could have been done differently."
"That's the kind of conversation that really needs to happen in public. This is part of that whole transparency thing," he said.