A political merry-go-round in Kansas has knocked a bank commissioner from office and returned his predecessor after a four-year hiatus.

Republican Gov. Bill Graves earlier this month named W. Newton Male to a four-year term as bank commissioner, effective Nov. 6. He replaces Frank Dunnick, who had similarly ousted Mr. Male four years earlier after a Democrat defeated the incumbent Republican governor. Mr. Male had been commissioner from 1987 to 1991.

"Historically, that's the way it's happened in Kansas," Mr. Dunnick said.

Mr. Dunnick's term officially ended on June 30, but state statutes required him to remain in office until he was reappointed or replaced.

He said he thought he might buck the trend because he had wide support among bankers and had met with the new governor. But since that was not the case, "I feel confident that Commissioner Male will do a good job," Mr. Dunnick said.

For his part, Mr. Male, chairman of $100 million-asset Prairie State Bank in Augusta, and $25 million-asset First National Bank in Haysville, said he hadn't expected to rejoin the banking department.

"I didn't expect a set of circumstances that would bring it about," he said. "I'm very anxious and excited to go back to Topeka."

The interstate branching issue promises to take center stage in his new term, as the state's community bankers association plans to introduce opt- out legislation.

"There'll be quite a debate about that issue," Mr. Male said.

But he's used to tough issues. During his last term, Kansas - like many states - saw its highest number of troubled banks since the depression.

"We helped revitalize Kansas banking," he said.

Bankers groups were positive about Mr. Male.

"We applaud the appointment," said Harold Stones, executive vice president of the Kansas Bankers Association. "We also want to give a great vote of thanks ... to Frank Dunnick."

J. Sue Anderson, executive director of the Community Bankers Association of Kansas, said, "We're looking forward to working with him."

As for Mr. Dunnick, he will continue to run his two Kansas banks, Prescott State Bank in Prescott, and Exchange State Bank in St. Paul, and is mulling a run for the state Senate next year.

And if the gubernatorial tables turn again in the next election? "My feeling right now is I'd probably be interested" in the bank commissioner position, Mr. Dunnick said.

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