The turnover rate at state banking commissions is higher than normal because of a combination of politics, retirements, and the lure of the private sector.
At least nine states, including Illinois, Louisiana, and Ohio, are looking for banking regulators, and another three states have just recently filled the post.
The job is potentially up for grabs in other states, including California, where bankers are waiting to see whether Walter J. Mix 3d, appointed by former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, will remain commissioner of financial institutions now that Democrat Gray Davis is governor.
The banking consolidation wave has washed away many of California's banks, and Mr. Mix has been considering updating the state charter to make it more attractive.
"California was at one time a financial force," said Ellen C. Lamb, senior vice president of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. "There's an opportunity, through revamping the charter, to attract large financial institutions back into California and back into the state charter."
Mr. Mix did not return calls seeking comment.
In Minnesota, Commerce Commissioner David B. Gruenes, who oversees banks and insurance companies, stepped down after the election of Gov. Jesse Ventura. An acting commissioner, Patrick Nelson, was appointed Jan. 4.
Last summer, Kevin M. Murphy, was appointed deputy commissioner to regulate banks, with the consent of the state's leading Democrats and Republicans. At the time no one counted on Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura becoming governor.
"One of the concerns for me was whether I was going to take a job for six months or six years," Mr. Murphy said. "There were no guarantees, either. I understood that."
Mr. Murphy, a banking industry veteran, said he has not been asked to leave, and is now working to modernize the state's banking charter.
Ms. Lamb said such changes are to be expected following a year in which 14 states elected new governors. Turnover creates "a new tone and focus" for a state commission, she said. But Ms. Lamb added, "you never tend to see seismic shifts in the banking industry."
Banking commissioners who have retired include Willis F. Kirkpatrick in Alaska, Bill J. Ford in Arkansas, and Wayne C. Curtis in Alabama who on Monday became director of education and regulatory affairs at the Community Bankers Association of Alabama.
State commissioners who left the job for the private sector are Timothy McTaggart of Delaware, Jack Schaffer of Illinois, W. Newton Male of Kansas, Larry L. Murray of Louisiana, James A. Hansen of Nebraska, and Richard Hardgrove of Ohio.
New commissioners include Mary Lou Preis, a former state legislator who succeeded Maryland banking commissioner H. Robert Hergenroeder Jr.; Jaynee LaVecchia, who succeeded Elizabeth Randall as New Jersey's commissioner of banking and insurance; and Wayne Fralin, who succeeded Washington State's banking commissioner, G.R. Zachary.