Name Game Plays Out at Portals

WASHINGTON — With a 2-1 Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission, the Trump administration is unlikely to be rushing to fill its two open seats, one for a Republican and one for a Democrat.

But the name game has already begun inside the Beltway, driven by various scenarios.

If Mignon Clyburn, currently the only FCC Democrat, were to decide to leave, that would leave the commission without a quorum and unable to vote on items.

Under that scenario, Jessica Rosenworcel, the Democrat forced off the commission in December over a partisan fight between the Senate majority and minority leaders, could be reinstated — as some have pushed for — paired with the renomination of new chairman Ajit Pai, whose term expired last June.

He can serve through the end of December in any event, but since Congress likes to pair nominees, one from each party, the need for a third, Dem, for a quorum and to renominate Pai could produce that scenario. Roseworcel is still popular on both sides of the aisle, including with new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who would traditionally get the pick, but President Trump is anything but traditional.

But there will be two more seats to fill in any event. Among the names that have surfaced for the Republican seat are Brandt Hershman, the Indiana legislator said to be a friend of Vice President Mike Pence, whose name surfaced as possible chairman; Viacom lobbyist Keith Murphy; Monica Desai, a former bureau chief under Republican chairman Kevin Martin and now with Facebook; and Chip Pickering, a former GOP House member from Mississippi now heading INCOMPAS.

On the Democratic side, John Branscome, who succeeded Rosenworcel as senior communications counsel when she joined the FCC, has been mentioned.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.