Hats Being Tossed In Ring For Dollar's NCUA Seat

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The game is afoot.

Candidates are already throwing their hat into the ring for the NCUA board seat of Chairman Dennis Dollar, whose six-year term on the three-person panel expires next month.

Because the nominating and confirmation process, which includes a lengthy background check for potential skeletons in the closet, can take months or even longer, Dollar is widely expected to remain on the board for several months.

But several candidates or their proxies have already expressed interest in the seat. Among them are: Nancy Usera, a vice president with Alaska USA FCU and a long-time credit union activist; Ed Collins, president of Lockheed Georgia Employees FCU, also a well-known credit union activist; Richard Houseworth, banking commissioner in Arizona, who withdrew his name after being nominated for a seat at the FDIC two years ago; and Dan Sullivan, a lobbyist in Wyoming with close ties to Vice President Dick Cheney, the former congressman from that state.

Several others are expected to throw their hats into the ring in the coming months. Whoever is nominated by the Bush Administration is expected to be designated chair of the board, making it a worthy payback for any political supporters.

While heading a federal agency is considered a prestigious appointment, as well as an entry into the heady turf of Washington politics, a deterrent to at least one of the candidates is said to be the salary of about $135,000 a year. Several of the candidates are already making multiple times that, possibly discouraging them to follow through on their ambitions.

One other thing is certain, the nominee will be a Republican, maintaining the current two-to-one Republican control over the nominally non-partisan panel.

While the war with Iraq is expected to delay lesser presidential actions, such as agency nominations, that may not be so in this case. Remember how President Bush defied speculation and appointed Dollar chairman of the board soon after his election?

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