FCC’s Genachowski, Tech Execs in Running for Commerce Post

Photo montage: Melanie Gamarra

With the revelation this week that the White House is expected to appoint Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to the top ambassadorial post to China, speculation has already begun swirling around who will succeed Locke as the administration’s point person on business and industry.

The Hill reports that Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and net-neutrality gadfly, is in the running.

Genachowski is a close, personal friend of the president’s, The Hill reports, and worked on his 2008 campaign. Additionally, he is seen as “having business connections,” which tarred his reputation among some liberals but might benefit him at Commerce.

“He’s not coming late to the party on spending time with CEOs and the private sector,” an inside source told The Hill. “He’s been doing that for two years. What people on the far left gave him grief for is actually an asset to being Commerce secretary.”

Meanwhile, top Washington soothsayer Politico’s Mike Allen pointed to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk as an odds-on “favorite” and “top candidate for the opening, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kirk, a former Dallas mayor, was reportedly interested in the position when President Barack Obama came into office two years ago, and, as trade ambassador, has “circled the globe several times,” DMN reports.

Others on the shortlist — at least, according to media speculation — include several names from industry as well.

The Hill mentions Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who will step down from his role with the Internet titan at the beginning of April, as a possibility.

Also in the running is former Symantec and IBM executive John Thompson, who most recently served on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which reviewed the causes of the recession.

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