WASHINGTON — Within minutes of Rep. Barney Frank's surprise announcement that he planned to retire next year, industry insiders and political analysts were focused on who would take his place as lead Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

So far, Rep. Maxine Waters, an outspoken African-American liberal from California, appears to be the front runner, due to her position as the next most senior Democrat on the panel and her political ties to fellow Californian Nancy Pelosi.

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