FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said today he is leaving the agency.
The announcement was expected, since Republican commissioner Robert McDowell said two days ago he, too, is stepping down, although perhaps not quite so soon. McDowell’s departure clears the way for Genachowski to ensure a 2-1 Democratic majority upon his exit. Both resignations were expected after President Obama won a second term.
Neither Genachowski nor McDowell has provided a specific resignation date; both said they will leave in the coming weeks.
The White House has not indicated who will replace Genachowski but analysts in telecom research group at Stifel Nicolaus say it looks like Tom Wheeler, a venture capitalist and former head of the wireless and cable industry trade groups, is the frontrunner.
Genachowski joined the FCC in 2009. In that time, he has tackled issues ranging from net neutrality and Universal Service Fund reform to freeing up spectrum for mobility. And while a number of associations and lawmakers applauded Genachowski’s FCC work, at least one organization said he failed to fulfill the promise of change; Genachowski joined an FCC whose worker morale and regulatory focus had been shaken by the previous chairman, Kevin Martin.
“The next FCC chairman should be someone who can focus on clearing regulatory dead-wood and ground the FCC’s work in rigorous cost-benefit analysis with an appropriate humility about technological change,” the non-profit, non-partisan TechFreedom said in a media release. “The alternative is to do what Alfred Kahn, Carter’s deregulator-in-chief, dreamed of doing: close the FCC once and for all.”