Sen. Johnson to retire, leaving banking committee seat in play

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, announced plans to retire and not run for re-election when his current term expires in 2014.

Johnson’s retirement will create a vacant seat at the top of the Banking Committee, leaving the post empty for the first time since he assumed the role in 2011.

Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry identified Johnson’s term as one in which he “supported small banks” and “worked to ensure that a strong regulatory and capital infrastructure” remained in place.

“I will be 68 years-old at the end of this term and it is time for me to say good-bye. I will not be running for re-election to the United States Senate in 2014 or any other office,” Sen. Johnson said.

The immediate question becomes who is next on deck to fill the chair. Compass Point Research & Trading made their own predictions, suggesting a Johnson exit means a changing of the guard within the Senate Banking Committee. The firm wrote, “his tenure at the helm has largely focused on defending the Dodd-Frank Act.”

Compass Point says, if Democrats maintain Senate control in 2014, possible Senate Banking Committee chair replacements include: Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY; Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Another potential candidate is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., although Compass Point considers the CFPB architect an unlikely pick.

All factors considered, if Democrats regain the chairmanship post, Compass Point considers Sen. Sherrod Brown the most likely candidate to lead the Senate Banking Committee.

As for who will take Johnson’s seat in the Senate?

Many political analysts expect the Senator’s son Brendan Johnson, a South Dakota U.S. attorney, to emerge as a possible candidate in 2014.

However, he has not announced any formal plans to seek the Senate seat. And even if he does, the banking community will be more focused on who is going to step up and lead the banking committee as lending and servicing rules become more ingrained in the system.

Overall, 35 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election in 2014, of which Democrats hold 21 seats and Republicans hold 14.

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