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WASHINGTON-The Senate Banking Committee’s Ranking Member, Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), recently announced that he would not seek a sixth term, leaving the top Democratic spot open for Senator Chris Dodd (Conn.). Sarbanes, 72, was a real lifesaver for credit unions in ushering the Credit Union Membership Access Act through the Senate seven years ago. “Senator Paul Sarbanes is a champion for credit unions.Sarbanes stood as a bulwark in the Senate, ensuring that the legislation would not be derailed. Thanks to his efforts, millions of consumers maintained their access to credit union services,” CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica commented. “I’m going to miss, and I think credit unions will miss, Senator Sarbanes,” NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan said. “He’s consistently been a supporter of credit unions.” Sarbanes has always “held credit unions’ feet to the fire,” Donovan remarked, and “always wanted assurances that credit unions were doing whatever they could to serve the unbanked.” But, “In return, he has consistently been supportive on those issues when we needed support.” Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd will likely replace Sarbanes as ranking member on the committee when his term expires. CUNA Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Senior Legislative Counsel Gary Kohn pointed out that Dodd is currently the chair of the Rules Committee and second in line on the Foreign Relations Committee, but, “Given the importance of the insurance industry in his state, I think he will be interested.” “He’s had a very good relationship with credit unions,” Kohn said of Senator Dodd, noting, “He hasn’t been in the same positions to be as helpful as Sarbanes was.” Sarbanes was first elected to the Senate in 1976 and his fifth term will end in 2006. According to The Washington Post, the senior senator is the longest serving in Maryland history. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. Kohn said that the Senate seat is fairly secure for the Democrats, but pointed out that Maryland now had a Republican governor so anything is possible. Some of the list of Democrats reportedly interested in the seat could include Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Congressman Albert Wynn, Congressman Ben Cardin, Congressman Christopher Van Hollen, and former congressman and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Donovan also suggested that former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend may be interested in the post. Interested Republicans could include Governor Robert Ehrlich or Lieutenant Governor Michael S. Steele. [email protected]

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