Six contenders have now been rumoured to be in the frame for a potential leadership race for Kent County Council (KCC) in the autumn.
One challenger, Conservative Cllr Harry Rayner, the member for Malling West, is the only person to directly challenge Roger Gough for the top job.
Cllr Gough has been in post for four years but faces the prospect of finding £86m in efficiency savings against a background of shrinking budgets and rocketing costs.
What sparked Cllr Rayner's decision is not known and he has refused to comment on the matter.
But there is growing disquiet on the backbenches over proposed tip closures and the leader not working more closely with the 60-strong Tory group.
The highest profile contender currently being spoken of is Sir Paul Carter, the only knight at County Hall and himself a former leader.
While refusing to comment on the speculation, he crucially did not confirm or deny an intention to stand.
When asked if he might consider putting his name forward, Sir Paul said: "I couldn't possibly comment on that."
He spent 14 years at the helm of KCC, between 2005 and 2019 and was knighted for his services to local government in 2020.
Sir Paul was critical of the council's leadership when neither the cabinet member for highways and transport or officials turned up at the Maidstone Joint Transportation Board meeting last week.
Other names doing the rounds are deputy leader Peter Oakford, KCC chairman Gary Cooke, chief whip Dylan Jeffrey and Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite.
Cllr Jeffrey, Cllr Gough's recently appointed chief whip, was not available for comment.
But he has conceded Cllr Rayner's may not be the last name to emerge ahead of a crunch Tory group meeting on October 5.
Cllr Kite declined to comment, but a friend said: "He's happy with what he's doing at Dartford."
Cllr Oakford was approached for a comment.
One member said: "If there is bad feeling about Roger, it's that he does not work with the group as a whole.
"There are real worries about the electoral consequences over closing the tips and maybe that will prove to be the single issue at the heart of any leadership challenge."
Cabinet members with portfolios are more likely to wait and see if there is a tide turning against the leader before making a move, said one insider.
Cllr Cooke said that when his year-long stint as chairman of KCC, he will return to the backbenches.
He added: "I'm not prepared to say any more than that."
Most councillors approached did not give Cllr Rayner much of chance, but if a third or fourth candidate did emerge, the whole picture could change dramatically.
Conservative backbenchers have been growing increasingly concerned about potential cuts to KCC-run tips, the possible closure of children’s centres and the state of the county’s crumbling, potholed roads.
One rural member said: "The issues facing this authority are huge and don't think the opposition parties are in any position to give us lectures about fiscal prudence.
"My best guess is that unless a cabinet member suddenly pops up, it will be Harry versus Roger and Roger will win."