Good points everyone. Of course, my intent here was by no means to stir the"political pot". I really wasn't looking for an 'official' successor to a current shihan, but rather who, within their organizations, is percieved to be next in line on basis of training, technical and teaching abilities, etc. This could be one or 2, or it could several...who knows. Which is why is ask!
As an example, Yamada sensei has made no qualms about paving the future of aikido in the US. As John put it - succession planning (maybe to avoid possible turmoil).
On a personal obervation and IMHO, its obvious that Waite sensei, Bernath sensei and Demko sensei are going to be counted on to lead the USAF in the future. They are long time students of Yamada sensei, and from the seminars that I've had the privelege to attend, thier promotions are certainly deserved.
John also alluded to ASU having two shihans, and as a 'personal' observation, Ikeda sensei is a no brainer to be the next guy after Saotome sensei! (the guy is awsome)
To simplify my question, I guess I'm looking for the same observation as i did from other students in other organizations. An alterior motive here is that I will take these observations as recommendations and attend any upcoming seminars these senseis may have while they are still cheap!