The long-rumored frontrunner for the Republican-held FCC post left open when Robert McDowell departed in April is now officially the nominee. The White house said today that Michael O’Rielly, a top policy adviser with current Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, will be recommended for confirmation. O’Rielly has worked in the GOP Whip’s Office since 2010, and he was previously Deputy Chief of Staff and Policy Director to Sen Jon Kyl. O’Rielly’s communications experience includes work in the Senate as a Policy Analyst for Banking, Technology, Transportation, Trade, and Commerce issues, as a staffer on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and as a Telecommunications Policy Analyst in the mid-1990s. Usually when there’s an opening for a Democrat and a Republican on the FCC — as there was as of the beginning of the week — the custom is to approve both nominees together. FCC Chairman nominee Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, was endorsed earlier this week in the Senate after Commerce Committee chair Jay Rockefeller decided he’d waited long enough for his GOP colleagues to come up with a name to replace McDowell. FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn is currently acting chair — and the first women to run the regulatory agency — taking over for outgoing chief Julius Genachowski until Wheeler and now likely O’Rielly are officially confirmed. Until then there are one Republicans and two Democrats running things at the commission.
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