The effort to stop President Obama from tapping his long-time ally appears to have failed: He’s preparing to nominate Core Capital Partners Managing Director Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing “two people familiar with the matter.” Four years ago Wheeler ran Obama’s transition effort for science, technology, space and arts agencies. He also lobbied for the cable industry from 1979-1984 when he was president of the National Cable Television Association, and then represented wireless phone companies as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). Wheeler’s status as an early favorite for the FCC job seemed to fade this month when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller launched an effort to elevate Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel — formerly the committee’s Senior Communications Counsel. Rockefeller and 36 other senators told Obama in a letter last month that Rosenworcel “understands and respects the relationship between the FCC and Congress.” Rockefeller also has been critical of Wheeler’s background. “A lobbyist is a lobbyist,” the senator told reporters. But an odd-bedfellows coalition of public interest advocates and business people rallied behind Wheeler. Public Knowledge CEO Gigi Sohn says that he “will not allow the FCC to become irrelevant as broadband becomes the dominant mode of communication in this country.” Another activist group, Free Press, is less confident. Wheeler does not appear to be willing to use the FCC “to stand up to industry giants and protect the public interest,” CEO Craig Aaron says. “But he now has the opportunity to prove his critics wrong, clean up the mess left by his predecessor, and be the public servant we so badly need at the FCC.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.