03/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mike Duncan, TVA's New Chairman

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Though it has tried to fight an image as a refuge for the politically connected, the leadership of the Tennessee Valley Authority elected the former chairman of the Republican Party as the federal utility's next chairman.

"I am more than a partisan animal," Kentucky banker Mike Duncan insisted after being elected by a 4-3 vote to succeed Knoxville businessman Bill Sansom as chairman of the country's largest public utility.

Two weeks ago, Duncan, former President George W. Bush's hand-picked Republican chief, lost a bid for a second two-year term as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

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