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White House Taps Comptel's McDowell for FCC Vacancy

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WASHINGTON The White House today said it would nominate Robert McDowell, a telephone association executive, to fill the open seat on the Federal Communications Commission.

McDowell would provide Republicans their first working majority in nearly a year. At least one seat has been open on the FCC since last March when chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, left a commissioner's seat open to assume his current post.

A break in the agency's partisan deadlock could clear the way for Martin to pursue a deregulatory agenda, including lessening restrictions on media ownership.

McDowell, senior vice president and assistant general counsel for the trade association Comptel, needs Senate confirmation. He already has picked up a vital endorsement from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chair of the Commerce Committee that oversees the FCC.

McDowell's Republican credentials include two unsuccessful runs for the Virginia state house.

McDowell and Martin have crossed paths before: Both worked with the Bush-Cheney vote recount team in Florida in 2000.

Comptel is a Washington-based association for competitors of the large Bell legacy telephone companies such as BellSouth and AT&T.