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WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, the highest-ranking Latin American woman in the Bush administration, plans to leave her post at the end of June, the Treasury Department announced Thursday.

Marin, who became the 41st treasurer in the summer of 2001, is being floated as a possible Republican contender for a Senate seat from California in 2004.

Mexican-born Marin, 44, has been a key player in the administration's efforts to reach out to Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing bloc.

As treasurer, Marin oversees the makers of America's greenbacks and its coins - the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the U.S. Mint, respectively.

She also has used her post to travel the country promoting financial literacy. And she has tried to get more lower-income people and others into the banking system, helping them to set up savings and checking accounts. Treasury officials estimate that one in 10 American households are in the ranks of "unbanked."

"After long and thoughtful consideration, my family and I have decided to go back home to California," Marin said in her resignation letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow. Marin, who is married and has three children, said her resignation will be effective on June 30.

Marin's family moved from Mexico to California, where she lived until Bush tapped her for the Treasury job.

Her political career began when she went to work for GOP California Gov. Pete Wilson in 1992 in the Department of Developmental Disabilities. She held various posts in Wilson's administration for nearly seven years.

Marin first crossed paths with George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas and she was the Republican mayor of Huntington Park, Calif., a heavily Democratic city that is largely Hispanic. She worked as an unpaid volunteer for Bush's presidential campaign.

Snow praised Marin's handling of her duties at Treasury, saying "we will miss her leadership, commitment, energy and dedication."

Marin, who was traveling, was not available to discuss what her plans are when she leaves Treasury.

In her resignation letter, she said: "During my tenure, I was fortunate to have been part of Treasury's efforts on issues that are very dear to me … I have been so lucky!"

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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