WASHINGTON - Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr.'s days in office may be numbered, industry and government sources said last week.
As rumors of potential successors swirl, sources said that Mr. Hawke was not likely to serve the nearly four years remaining on his appointive term.
"The odds of Jerry finishing out his term are very, very low," said Bert Ely, an independent consultant in Alexandria, Va. "Something is going to happen over the next six months to a year. The Bush folks want to plug in their own person as comptroller, and they can do it."
Though these sources said that the search for candidates is still preliminary, names have emerged from various quarters - even from Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm.
Sen. Gramm said Thursday that he had pushed for Wayne Abernathy, the committee's staff director, to be nominated. But the Texas Republican said that Mr. Abernathy did not want the post.
"He would be a good candidate, and I urged him to apply because he is certainly the best qualified for the job, but he is not interested," Sen. Gramm said in an interview. "He has said that he doesn't intend to apply and would not take the job if it were offered to him. He has the job he wants."
Other candidates include Thomas P. Vartanian, the chairman of the financial institutions and electronic commerce practice at the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen law firm here; John Dugan, a partner in the law firm of Covington & Burling here; and James E. Gilleran, a previous nominee.
Mr. Vartanian co-wrote the 1998 book "21st Century Money, Banking, & Commerce" and has been general counsel of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. He also was special assistant to the chief counsel of the OCC. He declined to comment for this article.
Mr. Dugan, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for domestic finance under the first President Bush, helped guide the 1989 savings and loan bailout legislation through Congress. He has also been suggested as a nominee for under secretary for domestic finance in the Treasury. He also declined to comment.
Mr. Gilleran was nominated by former President Bush for comptroller in 1992 but was not confirmed by the Senate before it adjourned that year. Then-President Clinton, who came into office the next year, then nominated Eugene A. Ludwig.
Mr. Gilleran was the chief executive officer of Bank of San Francisco until it was sold last month by First Banks America Inc. He was California banking superintendent from 1989 to 1994 and chairman of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors in 1992 and 1993.
He would not comment on whether he is being considered for comptroller but said he would like to serve in the new administration. "I would be very pleased to serve in a Bush administration in whatever capacity that he saw fit that I could be of service."
Meanwhile, government and industry sources said that Mr. Hawke has begun a campaign to save his job. He plans to raise his profile in coming months and would probably seek contact with officials of the new administration, the sources said.
A spokesman for Mr. Hawke declined to comment.
Other sources said that the Bush administration would not look kindly on Mr. Hawke, who they said is too connected to the Democratic Party.
But industry representatives said that Mr. Hawke is likely to stay for some time, even if the administration plans to replace him.
Some of Mr. Hawke's supporters have argued that he could legally stay until his five-year term ends in 2004. However, the President is allowed to nominate a successor at any time.