The chairman of the Florida GOP is expected to announce today that he will back Michael Steele as the next Republican National Committee chairman, a major endorsement in a tight race for the top post.

The impending endorsement from Jim Greer is to come hours after the seven candidates participated in a closed-door forum arranged by RNC members.

The party pressed on with the forum despite failing to get enough members for a quorum.

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Just a handful of members were present, with another 19 present by proxy, though seven candidates running for chair showed up to recite their pitches. The meeting was called by a group of national committee members and organized by North Dakota party chairman Gary Emineth

Incumbent chairman Robert "Mike" Duncan made a personal appeal for re-election, while former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell rebounded from a slow performance in a Monday debate with a more animated presentation, according to sources inside the room.

The two state chairmen running for a promotion, South Carolina GOP chief Katon Dawson and Michigan Republican Party head Saul Anuzis, focused on their abilities to win elections and run party organizations, the sources said. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele gave another strong performance, emphasizing his abilities as a communicator and his experience as a Republican hailing from a blue state.

One potential candidate will also use RNC members' presence in Washington, D.C. to make his own announcement. Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer, who had considered a bid himself, will announce in an early afternoon press conference he will back Steele.

The endorsement carries some weight, as Greer had several allies around the country ready to back him had he decided on running for the post. If those backers now migrate to Steele and add to his ranks of supporters, the Marylander could start the first ballot in strong position.

Steele has avoided rolling out public endorsements, instead preferring to keep his commitments private. Several RNC members have told The Hill they will back Steele but do not want their names associated with any campaign.

At the end of a busy week of campaigning in Washington, Blackwell, Anuzis and Duncan lead the pack in public endorsements. Each boasts 12 RNC members publicly backing their campaign. Dawson has rolled out eight endorsers.

Strategists for several of the candidates say they expect more of the 168 RNC members to roll out their endorsements in the coming days, after hearing from the candidates this week.

-Reid Wilson