Washington (CNN) – After just eighteen months at the helm, South Carolina Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd will announce Wednesday that she is not seeking a second term, GOP sources tell CNN.
With a national Republican tailwind at her back, Floyd presided over a overwhelmingly successful election cycle, helping the party gain control of all Constitutional offices along with five of six Congressional seats for the first time since Reconstruction.
Her departure sets up a wide-open race to lead one of the GOP's most important state party organizations at a pivotal moment for South Carolina Republicans. The party will tap its next chairman at their state convention in May 2011.
The upcoming two-year term will be among the most frenzied in the party's recent history, as Republican governor-elect Nikki Haley seeks to bridge an ongoing divide between the grassroots conservative activists who fueled her candidacy and GOP establishment figures suspicious of the reform-minded rising star.
Republican presidential candidates will also begin to descend on the Palmetto State in the coming months, courting voters ahead of the state's decisive presidential primary in 2012.
The next party chair will be tasked with negotiating presidential debates and raising large sums of money to fund the GOP primary.
The list of candidates in the running to succeed Floyd is long and includes a mix of veteran political operatives, former candidates for office and grassroots leaders with close ties to the Tea Party movement.
Among those being talked about Wednesday by South Carolina GOP insiders: former Attorney General candidate Leighton Lord, state Sen. Tom Davis, Republican National Committeeman Glenn McCall, former Lt. Gov. candidate Bill Connor, former South Carolina GOP executive director J.W. Ragley, Greenville County GOP chairman Patrick Haddon, Columbia attorney Todd Kincannon, Newberry County GOP chairman Chad Connelly and former Spartanburg GOP chairman Rick Beltram.
One influential political blog floated the name of longtime political operative Warren Tompkins as a possible candidate, but people close to Tompkins dismissed the rumor and said he has no interest in the job.