Edwin Poots has been endorsed by the majority of the DUP's MPs and MLAs to take over as party leader, according to his campaign manager.
The DUP MLA Paul Frew tweeted he would "take nothing for granted" and added he is "very grateful for the support Edwin has received from colleagues".
Mr Poots is the only candidate so far to put his name forward to succeed Arlene Foster, after she announced she'd be stepping down as DUP leader and First Minister.
The vote would be carried out by a small electorate, comprising only of the party's elected representatives in Stormont and Westminster.
It is thought likely that Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will announce his candidature in the coming days.
Meanwhile speculation linking East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson with a leadership bid has cooled in recent days and it is thought unlikely he will now declare.
If a leadership race takes place it would be the first in the DUP's 50-year history.
Meanwhile, Mrs Foster thanked the hundreds of people who contacted her with "generous messages" after she announced she will step down as DUP leader later this month.