Venture capitalist and former cable and
wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler remains the top candidate to replace departing FCC boss Julius Genachowski, according to analysis from Medley Global Advisors
. According to the report, Wheeler has seen a flurry of coordinated support from the Democratic party ahead of what could be announcement in the next week or two. The campaign has involved trying to get more progressive voices (like Susan Crawford
) to sign off on Wheeler to offset concerns about his former lobbying ties.
From the Medley report
"Venture capitalist and former lobbyist Tom Wheeler picked up a strong vote of confidence from a mix of tech policy experts that includes former administration officials and an ex-industry watchdog,” according to the MGA briefing. "The backing is designed to offset public interest group opposition to Wheeler," and included a prominent public-interest voice, Andrew Schwartzman, former president of the Media Access Project.
After Genachowski spent his entire tenure being too timid to do even acknowledge high broadband prices and competition issues
, worries about Wheeler being more of the same based on his lobbyist background are certainly valid. Here
is a copy of last week's letter (courtesy of Sam Gustin from Time
), which attempts to argue that people shouldn't worry about his lobbying ties because cable and wireless were still pesky upstarts then:
Tom has had an impressive career in the telecommunications and high-tech field that makes him eminently qualified for this position. He has consistently fought on the side of increasing competition, including representing the cable television and wireless industries in their early years when they were the insurgents challenging the established players. He has started or helped to start multiple new, high-tech companies that created quality American jobs while pushing the frontiers of technological innovation. He understands the importance of reclaiming the pro-competition, pro-innovation, pro-growth regulatory ideal.
Nearly everyone who heads into politics pays empty lip service to things like jobs and competition, but few bosses have ever been willing to really stand up to incumbent operators -- so we'll have to see just how pro competition and pro consumer Wheeler is. His blog
has interestingly not been wiped despite the looming high-profile appointment, and I'm slowly reading through it to gain some insight into his character. His musings, like this one deriding the "Silicon Valley mafia,"
are unsurprisingly very pro carrier, making Crawford's endorsement discordant with her current book tour narrative.
Julius Genachowski meanwhile has announced he's headed off to think tank life
where he will, I assume, be noncommittally straddling an entire new field of fences with a high degree of mediocrity.