Last July, Jim Gilleran was happily preparing to move his family here from San Francisco because President Bush had nominated him, to be the 27th Comptroller of the Currency.
He priced houses and even checked out the local high schools in anticipation of becoming the top regulator of national banks, a dream job for the man who is California's banking supervisor.
But the political fates were unkind. First, Senate Democrats refused to schedule a confirmation hearing until after the election. Then Mr. Bush lost.
"I am disappointed that President Bush was not reelected," Mr. Gilleran said in an interview. "I was prepared to do the job."
Plenty of energy was wasted on this aborted appointment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation alone interviewed more than 400 people for its background check on Mr. Gilleran.
The nominee also traveled to Washington several times to meet with administration officials and to woo Senate Banking Committee members. He didn't get past the outer office of Committee Chairman Donald W. Riegle, D-Mich.
"Sen. Riegle did not want to meet with me," Mr. Gilleran said.
The Californian said he is not bitter about his bad luck.
"I have no regrets whatsoever," he said "I understand the political process, respect it, and am willing to accept it."
In fact, Mr. Gilleran said he plans to recommend some Democrats among his fellow state banking supervisors to President-elect Clinton. The first to come to his mind was Derrick Cephas, New York banking commissioner.
As for what's next, Mr. Gilleran said "my papers will be returned by Senate Banking to the President, and Gov. Clinton will have his opportunity to submit another nomination -- and I don't believe it will be me."
Mr. Gilleran remains California's top bank regulator, a post he has held since 1989 and where he has his hands full.
Much to Do in California
"The banks here are struggling with high levels of nonperforming assets, all of which have to be digested," he said. "California banks will be in a workout period that should last to '95 or beyond."
Some of his friends, however, hold out hope that Mr. Gilleran can still be Comptroller, even though he's a lifelong Republican.
Claude Hutchinson, president of the California Bankers Association, noted that Mr. Clinton has said he wants to bring in the best people, regardless of their party affiliation.
"He indicated he is going to reach out to people of talent," Mr. Hutchinson said. "I take the President-elect at his word."
He added that "Jim gilleran has very successfully led the state banking department of the nation's most populous and diverse state. He has done it with distinction."
No Nod from Clinton Expected
Though appreciative of such sentiments, Mr. Gilleran stated flatly: "I've had no conversations with anybody connected with the governor. I can't imagine there will not be a lot of people who supported Gov. Clinton who will apply for the job. . . . One of them will get it."
The Comptroller's job has been vacant for a year. Steve Steinbrink, the agency's senior deputy comptroller for supervision, stepped in as acting Comptroller after Robert L. Clarke was denied a second term in the job last November.
"I thought I had a chance . . . because the industry is under such pressure," Mr. Gilleran said. "But I knew that if this [nomination] had not been taken up by Labor Day, it would not be."