Transport Minister Andrew Constance has pulled out of contention for the leadership of the Liberal party, all but handing the premiership to Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian.
Mr Constance, who had been canvassing his numbers after Mike Baird announced his intention to resign on Thursday, released a statement on Friday afternoon that gave his support to Ms Berejiklian and indicated he would be happy to keep his portfolio.
"Gladys will make an excellent Premier and she has my full support," Mr Constance said.
"NSW should be glad to have her at the helm. Having spoken to my family and colleagues it is my intention to continue to serve NSW in whatever way is possible. We have one of the biggest transport and infrastructure renewal programs ever seen in Australia and I'd be honoured to see that through."
Mr Constance and Planning Minister Rob Stokes were considered the two most likely contenders, but Mr Stokes, who is currently in the UK, said overnight that he would not run.
No other MP has announced their candidacy and she is expected to be elected unopposed at the party room ballot on Monday.
His statement came after Ms Berejiklilan threw open the doors to contenders for the leadership of the Liberal party this morning saying there would be "no hard feelings" if any colleagues wanted to challenge her.
She has asked Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet to be her deputy.
At that time she mentioned that she had spoken to Mr Constance but would not divulge the contents of their conversation.
"If colleagues feel they want to put their hands up, no hard feelings," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Friday morning. "It's a democracy. Competition is healthy."
The prospect of a Berejiklian premiership has alarmed some in the right of the party who fear she will be hostage to the left faction and powerbroker Michael Photios.
Ms Berejiklian told reporters she was working around all party members and trying to speak to them.
But she said she had not spoken to Mr Photios and played down suggestions made by talkback radio host Alan Jones on Friday morning that she would be installed by the factions.
"The people who decide who the next Premier of NSW is will be my parliamentary colleagues. I respect the process and I appreciate the public will have a say on who the next premier will be in two years time.
"There is a lot of commentary and speculation about process but at the end of the day we all know politics is about people and Mike's words and actions demonstrated that more than anything."
Ms Berejiklian would not be drawn on which MPs would be offered portfolios or whether there would be any changes to the policies pursued by Mr Baird under her premiership, saying that it would be presumptuous to comment on those matters before the party room ballot on Monday.
"I've been in public office now 14 years, I've been a senior minister for six. There's pretty much a fair bit out there about the kind of person I am and how I apply myself to the job.
"Out of respect for my colleagues I need to continue to talk to them today and again I appreciate that some colleagues are considering their position and that's their prerogative."
Mr Baird has not endorsed a successor but told Fairfax Media that Ms Berejiklian would do an "outstanding" job. The timing of his resignation announcement when potential contenders such as Mr Stokes were away has played in her favour.
Ms Berejiklian had considered running for the premiership when Barry O'Farrell resigned the post in 2014, but struck a deal with Mr Baird to run as his deputy instead, triggering ongoing speculation that they had come to a "Kirribilli-style" arrangement for an orderly transition of power.
But Ms Berejiklian said she had never had a conversation with Mr Baird about handing over the reins of power.
"When he has chosen to raise it I've actually avoided it - we've never actually had a conversation about that. Three years ago I waited to see what Mike's position was because I believed he was the best person to run the state. And I'm pleased to say I've been completely vindicated.
"I believe I'm the best person for the job now."
Opposition leader Luke Foley said he was disturbed that Ms Berejiklian could not outline her priorities.
"Ms Berejiklian couldn't tell us what she believes in, what she stands for, what her priorities are," Mr Foley said.
"Frankly I find it extraordinary that a person who's been waiting for decades for this, who's been anointed premier and will take over on Monday, can't tell us what her priorities are or what she believes in.
"People across NSW are enquiring about their new premier and she can't tell us what she wants to do with this state."